Over one million Mexican people are involved in the illegal drug trade including “about 200,000″ women, according to Mexico police estimates.
The president of an umbrella organisation of peasants, Jose Jacobo Femat, said Friday that the situation is “an alarming phenomenon” and, in the case of women, is the result of “gender inequality and the lack of opportunities to find legal employment”.
“It shows how mistaken the federal government’s public policies are for easing poverty in rural areas with its assistance programmes, since the female sector has seen the alternative to be taking part in growing drug crops and in drug production and distribution,” Femat said.
He said this at the inauguration of the 2nd National Meeting of Women COCyP Leaders and his statements were based on the number of women arrested and prosecuted for such crimes in Mexico.
The states where women are most active in drug-trafficking are Chihuahua, Sonora and Durango in the northern part of the country, and in the southern state of Guerrero, where “there are entire towns living off this (illegal) economy”, added Femat.
On an average, people from rural Mexico involved in the drug trade earn between “5,000 and 10,000 pesos (between $384 and $770) per week”, the umbrella organisation said.
The head of the National Farm Workers’ Union (UNTA) said Friday that some 600,000 daily-wage labourers have been lured by the drug cartels to grow Marijuana and poppy plants.
UNTA leader Alvaro Lopez announced this information at an event in Saltillo, the capital city of the northern state of Coahuila, the Mexican daily Reforma said Friday.
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence with powerful cartels battering each other and the security forces amid a scramble for the control over smuggling and distribution of drugs.
The annual toll has risen from 1,500 people in 2006 to more than 6,000 in 2008. More than 5,600 people have died so far in 2009.
Since assuming his charge in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 50,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police officials across Mexico in a bid to finish the cartels off, yet there has been no decrease in the number of gang wars so far.