As heroin addiction soars in the U.S., an opium production boom is underway in Mexico, reflecting the two nations' troubled symbiosis, says the New York Times. Officials from both countries say that Mexican opium production increased by an estimated 50 percent in 2014 alone, the result of a voracious American appetite, impoverished farmers in Mexico and entrepreneurial drug cartels that straddle the border.
The legalization of marijuana in some states has pushed down prices, leading many Mexican farmers to switch crops to opium poppies. Cartels, meanwhile, have adapted, edging into American markets once reserved for higher quality heroin from Southeast Asia. The results have rattled both nations. Nowhere is the toll of that surge more apparent than in Guerrero, Mexico's most violent state, where rival drug factions perpetrate a war of bloody competition and silent disappearances that have paralyzed the region.