Farming has become more expensive in Michoacán: extortion amounts have more than doubled, from 30,000 to 70,000 pesos (US $1,600-$3,700) a month, according to victims interviewed by the newspaper Milenio.
Remnants of the cartels La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios target small producers, particularly lime growers, said the coordinator of the security and justice working group in the Tierra Caliente region, Francisco Javier Valle Morales.
Despite extortion being common knowledge, he said, Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo has yet to address it. And as it continues to spread people abstain from filing formal complaints due to fear of retaliation.
Valle said criminal organizations approach farmers and farm laborers as the lime harvest begins. There are many people engaged in the activity, he said, and many belong to humble families.
Sectors of the population that are the most marginalized represent the principal “breeding ground” for criminal groups fighting for control over the practice of extortion, Valle said.
The extortion practice known as derecho de piso or cobro de piso is widespread in Mexico. Criminals demanding regular payments in exchange for allowing commercial activity to continue undisturbed, from selling merchandise on the streets to the operating of established businesses like restaurants — or growing limes.
Source: Milenio (sp)