Mexicans consume more than 550 tons of drugs worth over $800 mln annually, the country's secretary of public security said on Monday.
Drug trafficking has been a major woe for the Latin American state. In his New Year's speech, Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared fighting drug crimes in Mexico the government's top priority for 2010.
"According to our estimates, Mexicans consume 515 tons of marijuana, 27.5 tons of cocaine, 3.9 tons of heroine, and about 5 tons of synthetic drugs annually. Spending on their purchase accounts for more than $811 million," Genaro Garcia Luna said.
More than 4.7 million Mexicans are drug addicted, he said, adding the number of those consuming synthetic drugs such as amphetamines and ecstasy has risen by five times in the past six years.
According to government estimates, there are 107 million people living in Mexico.
Felipe Calderon declared a fight against drug crimes in the country, which has been the main hub for drug trafficking from Latin America to the U.S., after taking power in 2006.
However, the high profitability of the drug business has hampered government efforts, Garcia Luna said.
"While 1 kg (2.20 pounds) of cocaine costs $2,198 in Colombia, in Mexico [it costs] $12,500, and in the U.S. [it costs] $97,400. Drug dealers pull out all the stops to gain excess profit," he said.
Annual drug supplies to the U.S. via Mexico are estimated at around $40 billion. Some 45,000 servicemen have been involved in anti-drug operations at the border between the two countries.
According to the Excelsior paper, more than 15,000 people have been killed in drug-related clashes in Mexico since Calderon came to power.
January 25, 2010