According to the CIA, the world’s most powerful drug syndicate can be found in Sinaloa, Mexico. After the Colombian cartels were overthrown in the early 1990s, Mexican gangs have gained control over the entire drug supply chain from the plantations all the way to the dealers on the street. It’s estimated that the Mexican cartel makes about $30 billion per year just from cocaine and marijuana sales in the US.
Culiacan, a small town in Sinaloa, has its own peculiarities when it comes to drugs. These include a saint known as Jesús Malverde— The Drug Saint, The Mexican Robin Hood, The Generous Bandit, The Angel Of The Poor, and The Angel Of Sinaloa. Historical records can’t prove his existence; still many people in Culiacan celebrate his death and testify of receiving miracles from him.
Jesus Malverde is celebrated with food and drinks and marijuana. Although the substance isn’t legal in Sinaloa, nobody goes to jail for possessing a small quantity of it, especially on the saint’s special holiday.
It’s traditional for drug dealers to commission ‘corridos’ to be sung at local celebrations with friends. Sometimes they are sung at funerals too. A corrido, which is a song that tells the subject’s life story, can cost thousands of dollars depending on who writes it. Many of the drug dealers get into the business as young as age thirteen or fourteen. They then work their way up through the ranks.
Farmers in Culiacan are faced with the choice of adding marijuana to their fields in order to make some additional money. According to most of them, it’s the only way to make ends meet. Locals are more willing to buy a handful of marijuana than a kilo of tomatoes. When marijuana was legalized in certain parts of the US, the prices went down and farmers suffered the loss. In the US a kilo of marijuana sells for $7,000 whereas in Sinaloa it only goes for $27.
The people in this region live in constant fear, though. At any moment any of the drug gangs can start a war. Innocent people lose their lives and /or their property regularly and the police seem to simply turn a blind eye. Crosses commemorating the dead can be found everywhere in Culiacan. Every year thousands die in clashes between drug cartels or in fights with government forces.