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Avocado Police Protect Crops, Farmers in Mexico

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Kidnapping and extortion were serious problems for avocado producers in Mexico

Increasing demand for avocados has been great for producers, but it has also brought problms On the one hand, increased demand and higher prices means a lot more income for them. But on the other hand, it also means criminals have been increasingly interested in many of Mexico’s avocado producers. Now one town has started fighting back by employing avocado police to patrol the area and protect the farms.

 

According to the BBC, Tancítaro in Michoacán, Mexico, is known as the avocado capital of Mexico. It produces an estimated two billion avocados a year. That’s made the town rich, but it’s also made the town a target for organized crime. Now Tancítaro has started employing heavily armed crews of guards in body armor to keep watch over the farms, avocados, and the town’s residents.

Mexico produces 45 percent of the world’s avocados, and Michoacán is the biggest avocado producer in Mexico. The town of Tancítaro only has about 30,000 residents, but it produces enough avocados to supply the entire state of California with avocado on its own. Some of the farmers in the area have become very rich, and that’s made them the target of criminals. One avocado farmer said his 16-year-old son was kidnapped by criminals who wanted $1 million for his release, and he himself was kidnapped and held for ransom twice. Now he employs full-time bodyguards.

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The avocado police force is funded in part by the avocado producers, who pay a portion of their profits based on the size of their farms. An avocado producer named Lorena Flores said she works on the force 40 hours a week, and that she thinks the area is much safer now. Extortion and kidnappings had been a serious problem, but the residents of Tancítaro told the BBC those have stopped since the avocado police started patrolling. If the idea of organized crime targeting avocado producers is surprising, check out these 17 other facts you didn’t know about avocados.