Mexican Drug Cartel Seizes Control of Lucrative Avocado Trade

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Drug cartels in Mexico are penetrating the avocado sector for serious profit and money laundering. As Jan-Albert Hootsen reports for Vocativ, the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel is now the source for a significant portion of the avocados imported to the United States.

According to Hootsen, the Caballeros Templarios (the Knights Templar) derive from an earlier group of drug traffickers known as La Familia Michoacana, which trafficked marijuana, cocaine and heroin until 2010 when its leader, Nazario Moreno, was killed.

According to Vocativ, the avocado is state of Michoacan’s main export, with 72 percent of all Mexican avocado plantations located in the state. More than 80 percent of those avocados are exported to the U.S.  The Templarios have gone from simply extorting money from the region’s avocado farmers to seizing direct control of their plantations. Using tactics that include kidnapping and murder, the Caballeros Templarios now control all aspects of the local avocado trade, from production to distribution.

Known locally as oro verde (“green gold”) avocado yields greater revenues than any other cash crop—including marijuana.  During 2012-2013, the United States purchased over one billion dollars worth of avocado from Mexico.


Jan-Albert Hootsen, “’Blood Avocados’: The Dark Side of Your Guacamole,” Vocativ, November 18, 2013,

Brittany Greenquist, “If You Eat Avacados, You’re Probably Funding Mexican Drug Lords.” RYOT News, November 18, 2013,

Student Researcher: Patrick Sheehan (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: James Dean (Sonoma State University)