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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  • MortimerSnerd

    The ‘war on drugs’ is lost, and chasing low level dealers selling dime bags of grass or a few lines of coke is a waste of time. Educating kids in school on the dangers of drug use, and in getting involved in the drug culture should be a priority. They should know they could have a very short life if they do and gang affiliation is usually a 1 way street to the graveyard, once in you seldom get out alive. In Canada senior politicians are now talking about legalizing all drugs, not just marijuana. Ontario will soon be selling marijuana alongside liquor in their liquor stores.

    • Cool Hand Luke

      In Ontario, it has nothing to do with weed being sold in society’s best interests, but except to generate more money for a tax hungry, fiscally irresponsible corrupt government. Criminal groups are often disguised as government and Ontario is no different than other cartels.

      • MortimerSnerd

        Couldn’t agree more, but Ontario folks own the decision to put the present lot into power. Their collective mentality is to count the number of political ‘vote me’ lawn signs as they drive to the polls, saying he or she has the most so they must be most popular’ …so that’s how I’ll vote.” Voter stupidity and ignorance has no bounds…they reap what they sow

    • Yasmin Rubia

      It would be interesting to see what happens. Legalization should reduce drug related violence greatly.

  • frankania

    Duh, stop prohibition and let people ingest or NOT ingest as they see fit….Prohibition NEVER works/// it just corrupts officials and destroys lifes….

    • David Nichols

      I agree prohibition has never worked, but that being said there are many drugs that have serious negative consequences for the users health…Do we make non-users shoulder the cost of abusers healthcare?
      Their health issues are self-inflicted wounds…
      My second concern is that drug abusers are seldom employed for very long, so with a habit to support, they steal and/or prostitute themselves…another cost to be absorbed by those who chose not to do drugs…

      • Abuse of drugs should be approached in the same way that abuse of alcohol is approached. Make treatment available. Clearly, making it illegal ain’t working.

        • MortimerSnerd

          Felipe, don’t forget there is a huge taxpayer supported criminal justice system industry surrounding the ‘war on drugs’ .In Canada the incarceration of a single inmate for a year costs the taxpayer over $100,000, There is a criminal trial, and if complex, as many drug trials are easy another $50,000. There are judges to pay with their sunshine salaries, court workers and cops to pay so the costs are huge.. then there are the appeals… you could blow easy a million dollars putting some druggies in jail Because these costs are all taxpayer supported the money pit is bottomless. Do you now know why they want to keep the ‘war on drugs’ going?

        • David Nichols

          Plenty of drug treatment centers in the USA Felipe, and most of them do excellent work…
          Unfortunately most drug abusers do not self-report for treatment, but are referred to a treatment center as a condition of parole. Without the coercion of the Court, few would voluntarily submit to treatment. So virtually all those for whom treatment is a success, owe their rescued lives to that coercion.
          The problem remains that drug abusers almost inevitably are involved in other illegal behaviors and go to prison for those other crimes…

      • richardgrabman

        But people steal or prostitute themselves now. When Mexico had legal heroin, it didn’t mean it was socially acceptable, only that users could what they needed, not that they were integrated into society. Still, they were less of a social problem.

      • Steve Galat

        If you do the math, you’ll see that sending ALL known drug abusers to a Ritz-Carlton hotel for a month of R&R is 5,480% CHEAPER than funding the fraudulent Drug War where the USDOJ, CIA, FBI, Coast Guard etc all enable and abet the financial success of cartels and mafias worldwide. Go, USA!….Corruption by stealth and finesse….the ultimate kleptocracy!

        • David Nichols

          “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
          Non-responsive to my assertion regarding the health and economic consequences of drug abuse…
          Nonetheless I’ll respond to your hyperbole:
          #1) There is no hotel that big…
          #2) The drug abusers don’t want to go…
          #3) Assuming for the moment that you did round them up and put them in hotels for a month, what do you think that would accomplish?? Do you imagine that being exposed to the good life in a luxury hotel is going to convert them into hard working, employable, non-drug users…?
          We have many persistent social and criminal problems in this country, but social programs and law enforcements inability to change human behaviors means these problems will persist.
          We’re unable to stop people from killing each other, but that’s not a reason to make murder legal…

          • Steve Galat

            Dear David Nichols — Forgive me. I had the impression that you were discerning, analytical nuanced, intellectually adroit. I was misinformed….my bad. That you equate legalization of drugs with that of murder shows that you’re way more than 27 cm off-plumb. Your drug policy’s vast economic and human cost might be justified if it reduced the harm of drugs. But it does the opposite, wreaking trans-border devastation, degradation, corruption and profiteering. Now you’ve managed to give criminals control of the drug trade, so they battle over turf. The illicit high prices catapulted by your Interdiction force many addicts into crime to finance their habit; then there are all the over-doses. Anyway, no Ritz-Carlton for YOU, David. Instead, it’s the Brüdermentalholspital und Träumastische Kontrolært in Basel….C’mon…Pack up….OFF YA GO, pal!

          • David Nichols

            Again with the pseudo-intellectual diversionary response…
            No attempt was made to conflate legalization with murder.
            Perfectly clear to a reader with a modicum of reading comprehension was the idea that legalizing drugs would never stop their abuse and the concomitant results of that abuse.
            Sorry the education system has failed you in such an obvious manner.
            BTW I love Swiss chocolate and they make a decent watch, but if they let you out of their Loonie Bin there’s not much to recommend their mental health expertise…
            I’ll just stay here by the beach in Manzanillo and let the susurration of the waves calm my center…

          • Steve Galat

            David Nichols, Oh, MANZANILLO! My first stop in México, 1985….Hotel Colonial (Centro), Playa Audiencia, Herradura margaritas at Las Hadas, Bugatti’s restaurant with the ’30s Glen Miller Band…..waiting for my girlfriend to arrive from Manhattan….’¡O lejana y fogosa juventud!’ Am leaving now for 2 weeks on the Chiapas Coffee Trail, “Argovia Hacienda-Finca” Tapachula. Will continue arguing with you upon my return…..Meanwhile, Greetings from Puerto Aventuras, Q.R.!

          • David Nichols

            Pequeno mundo…!
            I was co-owner of Bugatti’s along with my partner, “the Italian Stallion” Franco Estari from 1992 to 1997… Many good times for me there, and a couple of pesos every now and then too…
            I married our Mexican cashier in 1999, so there is a story there as well…
            Will you be attending the PGA golf tournament in Mayacoba in Nov…?

      • Chaz Miller

        Wow! Here’s that infamous qualifier word again: “I agree prohibition has never worked, but…”

        Where do you get your employment facts from? I have done everything from marijuana to methamphetamine for most of the past half century, while at the same time was employed for 44 years out of the past 48, averaging 7 years per job (before quitting to work at another). I don’t fit your mold, and neither do many others.

        And non-users shouldering the health care costs of users? Where do you draw the line for compassion for others? Does your moral code decide who gets help and who doesn’t? By this standard, the obese, those with preexisting conditions, and for one reason or another, just about everybody shouldn’t get health care pending the ethics of others.

        • David Nichols

          Bragging about 48 years of drug use, including meth doesn’t do much for your credibility as an unbiased observer of the social costs of drug abuse…
          Surely you must have heard that there are exceptions to every rule.
          Anecdotal evidence such as you claim does nothing to change the fact that the overwhelming majority of drug abusers are supporting their habits by criminal behavior. I take note of the fact you never denied that may be the case for you as well…
          Inre “shouldering the costs”, we already do–it’s not a question of ethics, it’s a question of fairness…
          Those of us that pay for healthcare are paying the increased cost of treating people who CHOSE not to pay in order to have more money for drugs.
          The single mother, struggling to survive at a low paying job may end up having to choose between food for her kids or health insurance. She might not have to make that choice if her insurance rates only reflected the cost to the insurance company to cover her and her children…
          Nice try with the “slippery slope” analogy but it doesn’t fly–you cannot conflate illegal drug use with obesity and diabetes, for obvious reasons,
          So that argument is a fail also…

          • Chaz Miller

            First off, I wasn’t bragging, just stating a fact. Why did you call it bragging? Do you have a psychological degree I should defer to? And yes, I have heard of exceptions to “rules” (that you made up?) : those who act irresponsibly with drugs and alcohol. I’m in my 60s, as are my friends. We’re all still alive (obviously), and all had jobs until retirement. And criminal behavior?! I agree that happens with heroin junkies, and jerks like Rush Limbaugh who can’t read the prescribed dosages on the bottles, but where did I state I ever used opiods? Your comment was packed with know-it-all assumptions. Don’t get out much, huh?

            And ethics versus fairness? I am speculating (not assuming) I know what side of the political spectrum you are on. The single mother cannot afford health care not because of drug (ab)users, but because of corporate greed, the end, amen. To think otherwise is exceptionally naive, and made for a terrible analogy. WTF?

            In any event, I am on the side of humankind, including its flawed members. The “It’s mine!” mentality in the Divided States was a major reason for me to become an expatriate. No, Mexico is no Utopia, but it sure isn’t “us versus them” 24/7/365 like it was in the States. Sorry, but a “moralist” will never convince an old Socialist like me that an extra car in the garage is worth more than a human life. Truly ethical people know that.

  • For Christ’s sake, legalize drugs. Obviously, it cannot be controlled. If someone overdoes its use, provide medical help just like is done with alcoholics. Most people who use drugs do not overdo it.

    • David Nichols

      “Most people who use drugs do not overdo it”
      Verdad Felipe..??
      Have you seen the stats on meth users..? Meth is currently the drug of choice for millions, primarily because it is cheap, and the high is instantaneous. Of course the high doesn’t last, and addiction is swift–making it the ideal drug for the cartels, especially considering that they can make it anywhere—they don’t have to grow it in a stationary location…
      I would accept your assertion if it only referenced marijuana users, but it is generally not true of the narcotics and synthetic drugs…

    • Cool Hand Luke

      It is not for Christ’s sake. It is for our sake we need Christ, not the drugs.
      It isn’t even for the sake of the idiots sake who insist on using them that they should be made legal.

    • David Nichols

      Alcohol is legal Felipe, but we still put drunk drivers in jail, because the abuse of alcohol combined with driving has very high societal costs–including the loss of life for innocents…
      The same is true for illegal drugs…so we put drug abusers in jail as well.

      • You just backed yourself into a corner, my friend. Yes, drunk drivers are put in jail because drunk drivers are a menace to others. They should be put in jail. But if a drunk sits in his living room sloshed, he is not put in jail simply for being drunk. If you get high on, say, LSD and sit in your living room and the cops know about it, you are put in jail. Simply for getting high even though you are minding your own business, imperiling no one else.

        If someone gets high on a drug and commits a crime, he should be arrested for the crime, just as a drunk driver is arrested for barreling down the street. He is not arrested for being drunk. He is arrested for being drunk AND driving.

        Not a parallel.

        • David Nichols

          No corners in my statement amigo, kindly read it again…
          “The abuse of alcohol combined with driving has very high societal costs”
          “The same is true for illegal drugs”
          The second statement implicitly references “combined with driving” with the words “the same”.
          And as a side note, we both know a drug abuser has no likelihood of being arrested getting high in his own living room…unless, of course he is also selling drugs and has his retail supply in his house…strawman argument

          • Alas, señor Nichols, you remain in the corner. Here’s why:

            Just getting drunk alone in your living room is not illegal, and nothing will happen to you.

            Just dropping LSD alone in your living room is illegal, and DEA agents might ram your front door down and haul you off for years.

            Neither should concern the government.

          • David Nichols

            Sure Felipe…and the guy dropping acid MIGHT win the MegaBucks Lottery too–that’s equally likely.
            Don’t try to stretch an imaginary scenario enough to validate your specious argument, you cannot possibly believe DEA agents have so little to do that they are reduced to breaking down the door of a single LSD user getting high in his own living room..! That’s a preposterous supposition, and you know it…
            If you want to buttress your position, you’ll have to put forth an argument based on actual reality, not LSD induced scenarios…

  • Terri Lane

    Struck me as funny… a map for folks who want to get f!$/(ed up…