Opium production in Mexico increased by 50 per cent in 2014, as farmers tried to meet the growing levels of heroin use across the border in the US.
Production is predominantly in the south-western Guerrero state, which its governor, Rogelio Ortega Martínez says is now on par with Afghanistan in terms of heroin production.
A report by the New York Times also said that children are partaking in the farming, and can be found "scaling steep mountainsides to lance poppies and collect the gummy brown opium that seeps out".
Farming of opium pays much more than farming crops like corn, and many children are believed to have left school in order to work.
Heroin use in the UShas rocketed in recent years with the CDC calling it an “epidemic”.
According to the CDC, “heroin use has increased across the US among men, women, most age groups and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.”
Deaths from heroin overdoses rose by 175 per cent between 2010 and 2014 in America.
The spike is thought to be attributable to a number of reasons, with one being that heroin is now a cheaper addiction to maintain than prescription pharmaceuticals which have recently become subject to tighter regulations.
Jack Riley, from the USDrug Enforcement Administration told the New York Times that Mexican cartels are behind the increasing agribusiness. He said: “The cartels have a pretty good handle on the appetite in the U.S… they understand the prescription drug issue here, and that is one of the major reasons why you are seeing the expansion of poppy production.”
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