Points of sale for retail drugs. Points of sale for retail drugs.

20,000 places where you can buy drugs

Mexico City government report says the number has soared in three years

There are now 20,000 locations where illegal drugs are bought and sold in Mexico City, a number that has risen sharply over the past three years but while authorities are aware of the problem, they have been unable to combat it.

A joint report by the city’s Public Security Secretariat (SSP) and the Attorney General’s office identified 20,000 places where drugs were being sold as of January this year compared to 13,000 known points in 2015.

Cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana are the drugs with the highest demand.

Football fields, parks, apartment buildings, the street and small grocery stores are among the places used as retail distribution points, and the messaging service WhatsApp is often used to facilitate the deals.

The report details that, on average, there are 1,600 “narcotienditas” or little drug shops in each of the city’s 16 boroughs and the rise in small-time drug dealing has been recorded both on the city’s fringes and in its core.

Heading the list is the northern borough of Gustavo A. Madero where marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA and inhalants are for sale in almost every neighborhood. On average, 50 different locations in each neighborhood sell drugs and 22% of the city’s total drug arrests are made in the borough.

Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City’s most central borough, is next. Popular nightlife hubs Zona Rosa, Condesa and Roma all fuel the trade as does the notorious neighborhood of Tepito and the city’s historic center.

While drugs are bought and sold at numerous fixed points in all 45 neighborhoods, dealers also deliver to customers using bicycles. The borough accounts for 20% of the city’s total drug arrests.

Many of the drugs sold in other parts of the city also pass through the central district. The criminal group Cártel de la Unión operates and distributes drugs from the barrio bravo (tough neighborhood) of Tepito.

Iztapalapa has the third highest number of retail dealers and users as young as 13 have been identified in the borough, where solvents are often a gateway drug to other illicit narcotics. It accounts for 20% of drug arrests.

An upturn in violence including homicides along the route of an identified drug corridor that runs across several boroughs starting from the city’s core has alarmed authorities.

Distribution of drugs in five southern boroughs has also grown significantly over the past three years.

From just 200 locations identified in 2015, there are now 3,000 locations where drugs are sold across Tláhuac, Xochimilco, Tlalpan, Coyoacán and Magdalena Contreras. Drug laboratories have also been identified in forest land in Ajusco, Tlalpan.

The government report attributes the surge to the Tláhuac Cartel, which allegedly distributes drugs across the area and into adjoining México state. Its former leader was killed in a confrontation with marines earlier this year.

However, despite that operation, criminologist Manolo Oropeza Rodríguez says that authorities have failed to adequately address the problem.

“The problem is the authorities’ lack of awareness, not accepting that they have a very big drug dilemma and thinking that arresting 10, 20 or 100 dealers is combating it, but it’s not, it’s deeper. They need to attack the structure of the dealers [and] find out who supplies the drugs.”

Experts say a rise in consumption, particularly among teenagers, has also contributed to the proliferation of drugs in the city.

Sociologist Elena Martínez says that has occurred, at least partially, because parents and schools have not fully educated teenagers about the dangers involved.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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