Mexican poppy farmers are feeding a growing addiction in the U.S., where heroin use has spread from back alleys to the cul-de-sacs of suburbia, says the Associated Press. The heroin trade is a losing prospect for everyone except the Mexican cartels, which have found a new way to make money in the face of falling cocaine consumption and marijuana legalization in the United States. Mexican drug traffickers are now refining opium paste into high-grade white heroin and flooding the world’s largest market for illegal drugs, using the distribution routes they built for marijuana and cocaine.
It is a business that even the farmers don’t like. In a rare interview with reporters, the villagers told AP that it’s too difficult to ship farm products on roads so rough that cars are in constant danger of tumbling off the single-lane dirt roads that zig-zag up to the fields. They say the small plastic-wrapped bricks of gummy opium paste are the only thing that will guarantee them a cash income. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2014 National Drug Threat Assessment says Mexico produces nearly half of the heroin found in the U.S., up from 39 percent in 2008. Mexican government seizures of opium and eradication of poppy plantations have skyrocketed in recent years.