The “drug trafficking economy” in Mexico generates $600 billion per year

Personnel from Mexico’s Defense Ministry (Sedena) take custody of 26 million dollars confiscated from a drug cartel in Sinaloa. Photo: Notimex.

By: Roberto González Amador

 A “drug trafficking economy” has been consolidated in Mexico. Each year it generates a gross income on the order of 600 billion pesos, a number that doubles sales of the pharmaceutical industry. The data are part of an investigation into a new development strategy for the country, in which 477 university professors and researchers all over the country participate, promoted by José Luis Calva, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“The resources that organized crime moves through trafficking drugs represent an amount that adds up to the sales of several industries that operate legally in the country,” José Luis Calva explains in an interview with La Jornada.

This week the manifesto “We reconstruct our nation” (Reconstruyamos nuestra nación) was presented, with which con the National Council of University Students (CNU) presents 20 volumes of the collection Mexico 2018-2024: New development strategy. One of those volumes addresses the issue of the drug trafficking economy, as professor Calva calls it.

In a chain that goes from the plants to the local market in the streets, he explains, this “narco economy” generates income to between 800,000 and one million Mexicans that work in that kind of activity. The numbers, because of the very criminal nature of the activity, move in a range that can seem broad, but which is close to reality and that show the magnitude that this activity has reached in the economy, he says.

He cites figures from the US State Department Estado to assert that in the sphere of organized crime: “the sale of illegal drugs generates a gross annual income on the order of 600 billion pesos for Mexican cartels.”

The same source references, Calva explains, that the Mexican drug cartels receive between 19 and 39 billion dollars annually coming from the United States.

To put the number in perspective, family remittances represent an income from foreign currency on the order of 22 billion dollars a year for Mexico, according to numbers from the Bank of Mexico.

“But these cartels also sell drugs in Europe and in Asia, in addition to trafficking in Canada and different Latin American countries. Their trans-nationalization has reached such a dimension that Europol found that Mexican organized crime groups have become global market coordinators in cocaine trafficking in European and US markets and in the production and trafficking of synthetic drugs for the US, European and Asian markets,” José Luis Calva adds.

Hence, he says, the enormous financial ability of the Mexican drug cartels, not only for their accelerated process of capital accumulation, but rather for corrupting officials and infiltrating the structure of all three levels of government.

The first volumes of the Mexico 2018-2024; New development strategy collection were presented Wednesday and Friday of this week in the University House of Books, in the Roma district. On the same days of the following weeks new deliveries will be announced. Information is available at:


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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