El Barril, Mexico
Domestic production of marijuana and opium in Mexico is now at record high levels because of the deployment by the government of soldiers to urban areas to fight criminal gangs.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon moved troops from the Sierra Madre mountains from their illegal crops assignment in 2006 to the cities because of the menace caused by urban street gangs, many of which are also linked to drug related crimes.
According to U.S. State Department reports, the area of marijuana plantations that Mexican troops had destroyed and burned was down to 43,000 acres in 2010 from 77,500 acres in 2005. As a result, cannabis seizure at the U.S. southwest border grew to 1.5 million kilograms last year from 1 million kg in 2006.
Poppy production also increased dramatically to 50 million metric tons in 2009 from just 8 million metric tons in 2005. For the same years, heroin seizures across the U.S.-Mexican boundary jumped by three-fold.
Experts said the growth of illegal drugs production in Mexico reflects a weakness in the U.S.-backed strategy that led to the concentration of Mexican soldiers to Monterrey and Acapulco.
For the same five-year period, more than 40,000 deaths linked to Mexico's drug wars were recorded south of the U.S. boundaries.
However, Canadian migrants to Mexico debunk the common perception that drug cartels are all over the place. Although some local businesses have received calls from these Mexican drug rings asking for protection money, expats are often spared the harassment because members of the drug cartels often don't speak English.
Part of the attraction of Mexico for Americans and Canadian migrants are the more comfortable weather and lower standards of living which allow them to enjoy luxuries they could not otherwise afford in their native countries such as hired household help.
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