The Grisly Reality Behind Soaring Lime Prices

Mexican cartels are making the citrus more expensive in the United States.

Marco Carmenatis prepares a box of limes that have been imported from Columbia for shipping to a customer at Marco produce on March 26, 2014 in Miami, Florida. Mr. Carmenatis said they hadn't received any lime imports from Mexico for the last three days as a tight supply in Mexico has driven up the availability as well as the prices for the citrus in the United States. 
National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
Elahe Izad
April 15, 2014, 8:42 a.m.

The lament of in­creas­ingly ex­pens­ive limes has be­come wide­spread among Amer­ica’s mar­gar­ita lov­ers and guacamole fiends.

But while we in the United States may be up­set at the up­tick in lime prices — which have jumped to $100 from $25 for a 40-pound car­ton in just a few months — the in­creased strain on wal­lets masks a very grim state of af­fairs in Mex­ico, which provides nearly all of the limes con­sumed in the U.S.

A spike in price — caused in part by heavy rains and a cit­rus dis­ease hit­ting a prime lime-grow­ing area in Mex­ico — has at­trac­ted the at­ten­tion of crim­in­al car­tels, which have been look­ing to ex­ert con­trol over the lime eco­nomy.

Re­ports of ex­tor­tion, vi­ol­ence, road­b­locks, and in­tim­id­a­tion have been trick­ling out of the biggest lime-grow­ing areas of Mex­ico. These re­gions also hap­pen to have a large pres­ence of the bru­tal Knights Tem­plar drug car­tel.

The Knights Tem­plar have branched out from drug traf­fick­ing and now make more money from min­ing, log­ging, and ex­tort­ing mostly lime and avo­cado pro­du­cers. A Mex­ic­an gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial es­tim­ates the car­tel earns $800,000 to $1.4 mil­lion a week from ex­tor­tion — and that the or­gan­iz­a­tion con­trols the whole­sale dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter, where lime grow­ers sell their products to the world, and where lime prices are set.

It’s got­ten so bad that people in­volved in lime pro­duc­tion have be­gun to fight back. “For lime grow­er Hipolito Mora, it was time to or­gan­ize and pick up arms when a pack­ing com­pany con­trolled by a bru­tal drug car­tel re­fused to buy his fruit,” the AP re­por­ted in Novem­ber. Mora, along with oth­er lime grow­ers, pick­ers, and ranch­ers, is part of a mi­li­tia formed to fight against the car­tel.

Crim­in­al in­volve­ment in pro­duce is not new in Mex­ico. A 2011 Chris­ti­an Sci­ence Mon­it­or re­port doc­u­ments how the drug wars ex­acer­bated a spike in lime prices back then. “Be it ex­tort­ing farm­ers, at­tack­ing pro­duce trucks, or caus­ing more time-con­sum­ing bor­der in­spec­tions, crim­in­al gangs are af­fect­ing al­most every link in the pro­duce sup­ply chain,” the news­pa­per re­por­ted.

So the next time you be­moan the pricey lime in your shop­ping cart, you may want to dial back your com­plaints. For Mex­ic­ans, that price tag stems from a dan­ger­ous and deadly set of cir­cum­stances.

What We're Following See More »
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
4 days ago
BREAKING
MANAFORT AND FLYNN
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
4 days ago
THE DETAILS

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
BUSINESSES CAN’T PLEAD FIFTH
Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login