As the avocado craze spreads across the United States, the economy of the Mexican town of Tancítaro skyrockets. Known as Mexico’s avocado capital, the relatively small town produces enough avocados to satisfy the entire state of California.
Mexico is the world’s leading avocado producer, growing 45% of the world supply. The area around Tancítaro exports over 2 billion avocados to the United States yearly. However, the overwhelming success of this industry has drawn organized crime, jeopardizing the safety of these avocado producers.
The state of Michoacán, where Tancítaro is located, was the initial site for Mexico’s war on the drug cartels that dominated the area. Unfortunately, Mexico’s misguided policies only served to increase drug-related violence, further descending the region into a state of uncertainty. This combined with a lack of an effective police force led the people of the region to arm themselves to protect themselves from the violence. In Tancítaro, they are now referred to as the “avocado police.”
Not only do these avocado police protect the city from organized crime, they also work alongside avocado producers to recruit more police. It is clear that they are a serious force, as they are equipped with advanced weapons and protective gear that resembles that of the U.S. military. These avocado producers partly fund the police force, and are essential for its survival and the safety of Tancítaro. The avocado police have been the most successful group of their kind in the region because of this funding. However, this isn’t purely a selfless act; for them to continue to profit from avocado farming they must protect themselves. It is essentially their only option; anything else would ensure that Tancítaro would descend into chaos.