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Mexico's militarized approach to tackling drug trafficking has been a disaster for the country.
As part of Mexico’s ongoing war on drugs and the fight to cut out the illegal heroin trade, the country's military is allowing the United States and United Nations to help observe opium poppy cultivation eradication programs, according to a Reuters investigation.
The U.S. military and U.N. embassy officials were flown deep inside Mexico’s opium producing region and shown the eradication programs at work by the Mexican army, two officials told Reuters.
Officials were taken by helicopter to a number of sites in the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, which along with the state of Durango, make up the so-called golden triangle of opium production in the country’s northwest.
The Mexican army is also looking to update its data collection methods through using hardware and software developed by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC. The technology is due to be implemented by the summer and will allow troops destroying opium fields of drug crops to register data in real time and help to better understand how many crops are being destroyed.
UNODC said it was looking forward to strengthening its cooperation with Mexico. Data from the Mexican army showed that it has destroyed 25,960 hectares of opium fields in 2015, an increase of 77 percent from 14,662 hectares in 2013.
Overall, however, eradication programs appear to be making little impact. In 2016, Mexico was ranked as the biggest grower of opium poppy in the Americas and was third in the world behind Afghanistan and Myanmar, according a UNODC report.
According to U.S. estimates, Mexican poppy cultivation has more than doubled since 2013 to around 28,000 hectares in 2015, enough to produce around 70 tons of heroin, the majority of which makes its way to the U.S. market.
Last month, Trump promised to combat the opioid addiction crisis and to stop the “pouring” of drugs into the U.S. from drug cartels and signed an executive order to create a national opioid commission. High levels talks are taking place between the U.S. and Mexico to help stop the transnational trade.
Many poppy growers have also gotten caught up in the state-run eradication programs, where they are treated as part of the criminal networks. In the state of Guerrero, poppy growers have demanded that the armed forces stop spraying their crops with pesticides and have helped to re-spark the debate on legalization of the crop for medicinal purposes to help support the livelihoods of many poor communities.
It is the first time since 2007 that the Mexican Army has allowed officials from the U.S. and U.N. to observe its drug eradication efforts. Experts are now asking if the U.S. will now help increase funding to crop eradication programs.
It is hoped that the new coordination, will boost the credibility of the Mexican army and the state -- both internally and abroad -- as it continues its war on drugs. Kicked off by former President Felipe Calderón in late 2006, successive Mexican administrations have used its armed forces to engage in a military-style campaign against drug trafficking cartels, which have left a trail of violence, disappearances, torture, rape and systematic impunity.
While a number of key cartel figures have been killed or captured, the military has been accused of human rights abuses, intensifying violent confrontations with criminal groups, and creating tensions with locals in the regions where they are stationed.
As Calderon left office in December 2012 the death toll from the drug war has commonly been cited at 60,000 by U.S. media. Others, including the Trans-Border Institute, have estimated it to be at a staggering 125,000 victims. Also, around 26,000 people have been disappeared at the hands of Mexican security forces.
Since 2008, Mexico has received US$2.3 billion from the U.S. as part of a security assistance package to fight crime and drug cartels known as the Merida Initiative, helping to further fuel the drug war. U.S. drug war aid has been used as bargaining chip by the Trump administration.
show source http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Mexico-Enlists-US-and-UN-Observers-for-War-on-Drugs--20170408-0003.html