By Frida Ibarra / Noria Research

The regulatory framework related to the eradication of illicit drug crops in Mexico is a complex one. On the one hand, there are the international conventions on the control of substances; on the other, the national legal framework that shapes the prohibitionist drug system. Additionally, there is the by-law that regulates government actors that are participants in the eradication campaigns. The issue becomes more complex if it is considered that the main institution in charge of these tasks is the Department of National Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional – SEDENA in Spanish), which for a long time has lacked norms that define its participation in activities to combat drug trafficking.

For these reasons, the analysis of the evolution of the regulatory framework on the matter is just a necessary element, but insufficient, to understand the role of civil authorities and the Armed Forces in eradication tasks; its reading must be accompanied by additional documents included in this text.

However, observing the evolution of regulations – that is, what laws have been created, what reforms have undergone, and which institutions have been conferred powers – also offers a clue about government priorities. Indeed, in compliance with the international treaties signed, and under pressure from the US government but also obeying its own internal logic, Mexico has been progressively modifying and adapting its legal framework to reinforce the prohibitionist system of drugs. Also, it has been determining the functions of the public corporations that would participate in the campaigns to eradicate illicit crops, where it is possible to see a clear interest in legalizing the actions of the Armed Forces in this area.

This article, first refers to the international drug control conventions signed by Mexico, as well as the internal laws that gave content to the prohibitive drug system, focusing on poppy cultivation. Second, it exposes the evolution of the regulatory framework of the Mexican authorities participating in the eradication of illicit crops. Third, it presents the two instruments that currently regulate the actions of said authorities: the MEXK54 Project “System for the Monitoring of Illicit Crops in Mexican Territory”, and the National Protocol for the Destruction of Illicit Crops. Finally, some conclusions are presented on the development of the regulations and the role played by the institutions that today are in charge of eradicating poppies in Mexico.