Extortion of Avocado Growers in Western Mexico

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    500 vigilantes in western Mexico gathered to protect avocado growers. The self-defense group calls themselves the “Pueblos Unidos,” or United Towns, and gathered Saturday, pledging to aid police. Why the need for all the protection?

    Lately, drug cartels like the Viagras and the Jalisco cartel have been charging avocado growers what they call “war taxes” amounting to as much as $1,000/acre. In some areas, the situation has even escalated to kidnappings. As a result, growers, farmers, and other locals in the area formed the group in 2020 and now has almost 3,000 members.

    avocado grower

    Protecting Avocado Growers

    On Saturday, the vigilantes gathered in a rally in the town of Nuevo Urecho, in the state of Michoacan. They were armed with rifles, AR-15s, and shotguns, but have honored Governor Alfredo Ramirez Bedolla’s wishes for vigilante groups to stand down and allow police to handle the issue, for now. Mexican law forbids most civilians from owning most firearms, except for low-caliber shotguns or hunting rifles.