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Revenues from avocados are keeping Mexican town safe

Everyone knows that at the moment, avocados are extremely popular. But here, in this rural region of Michoacan, the fruit serves a greater purpose than just making guacamole. Avocados help keep a town safe from the violence that is plaguing so much of Mexico.

The financial rewards that have come from producing 80% of the avocados imported to the US have led to the creation of a citizen police force -made up mostly of avocado farmers- taking back the town of Tancitaro from violent criminals over the past four years.

Aguacate Sur is a small village within the municipality of Tancitaro. It spends an estimated $1.2 million annually to fund a quasi police force. About half of the council’s funding comes from powerful avocado producers in Tancitaro.

Before the citizens council and the new police force existed, ruthless organisations kidnapped, extorted and killed locals, using profits from avocado farmers to finance their criminal enterprises.

According to, more than 29,000 homicides were recorded last year throughout Mexico; the country’s highest number since the government began compiling statistics in 1997. Many towns in dangerous regions have their own civilian self-defence groups. Tancitaro now has its own special police force.

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