The number of illegal marijuana plantations in Northern Mexico has “declined considerably” over the last few months, told a Mexican army commander to the Associated Press on Tuesday, as a devastating drought continues to wreck havoc on the country’s water supply to both its population and cropland.
"We can see a lot less (marijuana plantations) than in other years," said General Pedro Gurrola, commander of armed forces in the state of Sinaloa. With water supply scarce, many marijuana crops have also dried up, added General Gurrola, whose forces conducts regular surveillance flights across the country to seek out any illicit drug plantations.
Mexico is currently experiencing its most intense drought in 71 years, according to its Secretary of Social Development Heriberto Felix Guerra. More than 2 million people in the country have been affected by the water shortage, with the government set to provide $2.63 billion in aid, including potable water, food and temporary jobs to rural communities in 19 of Mexico’s 31 states. Government officials warn that the drought could last for at least another five months, with freezing temperature in some states now threatening to endanger lives and crops.
Nearly 7 percent of the country’s agricultural land, mostly in the north and centre, has suffered complete losses, said Mexico’s director of development studies at the Agriculture Ministry Victor Celaya del Toro to the New York Times.
Other farmers, including illicit ones, are also doing their best to adapt to the dire conditions.
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Mexican drug cartels are also producing more synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine to make up for the shortfall, added army spokesman General Ricardo Trevilla, with authorities seizing 675 tonnes of a key precursor chemical in December alone.
“The cartels have been increasingly turning to the production of synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, because they are easier to produce and are more profitable,” said General Trevilla.
“Synthetic drugs can be made faster, need less storage space and are harder to detect,” he added.