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The United States suspends Mexican avocado imports

Drug cartels in Michoacan threaten the safety of U.S. health inspectors

Mexico has confirmed that the United States government has suspended all imports of Mexican avocados “until further notice” after a U.S. plant safety inspector was threatened in the South American country.

“U.S. health authorities … made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone” the Mexican Agriculture Department said in a statement.

Victims of drugs cartels

Avocado exports are just the latest victim of drug cartel turf wars and extortion of avocado growers in the western state of Michoacan, the only state in Mexico authorised to export to the U.S. market. Many avocado growers in Michoacan say drug gangs threaten them with death unless they pay protection money, which can amount to thousands of dollars per acre.

According to the report by AP News, the temporary suspension was confirmed last Saturday on the eve of the Super Bowl, the biggest sales opportunity of the year for Mexican avocado growers. The ban hits an industry worth 3 billion dollars in annual exports.

The U.S. Embassy wrote on its social media accounts that “facilitating the export of Mexican avocados to the U.S. and guaranteeing the safety of our agricultural inspection personnel go hand in hand. We are working with the Mexican government to guarantee security conditions that would allow our personnel in Michoacan to resume operations”.

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