Home NewsCrime Extortion suffocates cattle ranchers and farmers in Michoacán

Extortion suffocates cattle ranchers and farmers in Michoacán

by Sofia Navarro
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Extortion is virtually choking all the productive chains in the agri-food, livestock, and commercial sectors of a region known for its significant agricultural output, some of which is exported to the United States, Canada, and Japan.

For years, lemon, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, tomato, chili, peanut producers, as well as cattle ranchers, butchers, and traders from various fields, have suffered from criminal groups demanding protection money operating in the municipalities of Múgica, Gabriel Zamora, Parácuaro, Apatzingán, Buenavista Tomatlán, Tepalcatepec, Aguililla, La Huacana, Churumuco, and Turicato.

“They’re attacking from all sides,” Los Viagras, Templarios, and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), but now the concerning issue is the increase in extortion fees, a group of entrepreneurs, producers, packers, and traders from the region tells EL UNIVERSAL. They request anonymity due to fear of retaliation.

The criminal groups dictate the cut and distribution of lemons, which are also exported to various countries, yielding them significant profits, underline the producers.

Desperate due to the authorities’ neglect, they reveal that the situation is “so grave” that extortion is not limited to lemon and avocado producers alone; it extends to papaya, tomato, cantaloupe, mango producers, as well as butchers, tortilla vendors, gas station owners, small shopkeepers, and transporters.

For instance, in the Nueva Italia region, the municipal seat of Múgica, papaya growers are charged 5,000 pesos to allow them to cultivate one hectare. Moreover, they were recently forced to raise the fee for using water for papaya cultivation from 400 to 1,000 pesos.

And as if that weren’t enough, during the harvest, they are charged one peso per kilogram of papaya. Therefore, “the concern is not just about lemons; they are present in all agricultural products,” they emphasize.

In the case of cantaloupe and mango, fruits exported to the United States, Canada, and Japan, organized crime demands one peso per kilogram from the producer and another peso from the packer. “They collect more than the Tax Administration Service (SAT) using terror tactics,” the producers remark ironically.

According to state authorities, the Apatzingán Valley produces around 900,000 tons of lemons per year, and criminals charge one peso per kilogram from the producer and another peso from the packer. The criminals decide on the harvesting and distribution of citrus fruits that are also exported to various countries, yielding them hefty profits.

Traders are also victims of the stalking by Los Viagras, Templarios, and Jaliscos. They must pay a fee to transport goods from Apatzingán to Buenavista Tomatlán, Tepalcatepec, and Aguililla, the latter being the hometown of the leader of the CJNG, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias El Mencho.

Hardware stores and construction material shops are also subjected to extortion. In certain municipalities of Michoacán’s Tierra Caliente, organized crime forces the population to buy from specific businesses of this kind, many of which are owned by criminal leaders operating in the area.

The Michoacán State Attorney General’s Office reported having opened 120 investigations into extortion cases involving lemon growers in the Apatzingán Valley, a high-impact crime that often goes unreported due to victims’ fear.

TYT Newsroom

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