Avocado heartland Michoacan is held hostage by the cartels

© ALFREDO ESTRELLA A member of Mexico's special forces wears a bomb disposal suit during a demonstration of landmine clearance in Aguililla in Michoacan state

While Super Bowl fans devoured tons of guacamole in the United States, soldiers in Michoacan, the world’s biggest avocado-producing region in Mexico, were deactivating makeshift landmines left by warring drug traffickers.

At the same time, officials scrambled to end a suspension of Mexican avocado exports to the United States prompted by threats against a US inspector in the western state of Michoacan.

The Super Bowl party was soon over and on February 18 Washington announced that Mexican shipments of the fruit beloved for its creamy green flesh would resume after a week-long halt.

But in Michoacan, the battle continues for control of the region’s agricultural riches, which organized crime groups fight for a slice of through robbery, kidnapping, and extortion.

In the town of Aguililla, the birthplace of Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, head of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, bullet-pocked houses sit next to abandoned crops and hidden explosive devices.

Oseguera, 55, is one of the United States’ most-wanted fugitives with a $10 million USD bounty on his head.

With sales worth $2.8 billion US dollars to Mexico in 2021, the avocado is highly prized by his powerful cartel and the rival Los Viagras, who are also fighting over drug smuggling routes.

In February alone, when the consumption of guacamole soars during the National Football League championship, 140,000 tons of avocado are expected to have been shipped from Mexico to the United States.

Source: El Pais

Michoacan Post