In the mountains of Guerrero, despite continuous operations of the Mexican Army to eradicate illegal plantations, the cultivation of poppy and the production of opium is growing. Conflicts between small cartels that control production areas are also intensifying. In this "no man's land", "community police" have stepped in to protect the communities.
Left, aerial view of an illegal poppy field in the hills of Heliodoro Castillo. Right, a Guerrero Community Police member is framed by poppy buds in Heliodoro Castillo, Mexico. (Pedro Pardo / AFP / Getty Images)
The Drug Enforcement Administration said in its 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment that Mexican heroin accounted for 93 percent of heroin tested in U.S. markets in 2015, practically displacing production from South America.
Clockwise from top left: Guerrero Community Police members patrol the streets in Heliodoro Castillo. Guerrero Community Police members march through Tlacotepec. A Guerrero Community Police member rests next to his weapon at a checkpoint in Apaxtla de Castrejon. Guerrero Community Police members patrol the hills in Carrizalillo. (Pedro Pardo / AFP / Getty Images)
It said Mexico’s opium production more than tripled between 2013 and 2016, noting “this increase was driven in part by reduced poppy eradication.” The Mexican government’s own figures showed poppy eradication dropped by 15 percent in 2016, but appeared to be rebounding strongly in 2017.
Top, Guerrero Community Police members stand guard in Tlacotepec. Left, Guerrero Community Police members march in Tlacotepec. Right, Guerrero Community Police members patrol the hills in Heliodoro Castillo. (Pedro Pardo / AFP / Getty Images)