Poppy cultivation in Mexico and Colombia is part of a local economy geared almost exclusively toward the illegal market abroad: it is driven by demand for heroin, primarily in the United States. North America, including Canada, is currently experiencing a major humanitarian crisis related to this use and the opioids circulating on this market.

To understand the dynamics of this market and to evaluate whether political responses to the phenomenon are appropriate and effective, we present this report on opium poppy cultivation in Mexico and Colombia, which, together with Guatemala, are the poppy-producing countries of Latin America. While it was not possible to include Guatemala in this study, we attempt to provide some relevant information about this Central American country. Because the U.S. government tends to look to producing countries to explain the causes of the emergency situation in its country, it is important to consider the problem from broader and more inclusive perspectives.

This report is based on fieldwork by two researchers in Mexico and Colombia, relevant data and literature, and analyses of the U.S. market for heroin, primarily by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Due to lack of information, it does not include detailed discussion of or data from Canada, although a similar situation is understood to exist there.