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MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican drug gangs are forcing Indian tribes to abandon their traditional crops and grow marijuana and heroin poppies, according to a study released on Tuesday.
The report by Mexico's National Anthropology and History Institute said armed drug gangs were driving communities of Tarahumara, Guarijio and Pima Indians to give up their age-old way of life in the mountains of Sonora and Chihuahua states.
More than 50,000 members of the tribes have lived in caves and log cabins in remote canyons in the Western Sierra Madre mountain range in the area for millennia, surviving on subsistence corn crops.
They mix Roman Catholic rites with traditional beliefs in sun and moon deities, and chew hallucinogenic peyote buttons to perform an ancient dance to cure the sick.
Researchers said drug gangs from neighboring Sinaloa state are entering the remote region and forcing the native villagers to stop growing traditional corn in favor of marijuana and heroin poppies.
"These three groups have been forced to abandon their traditional crops by the drug traffickers, and it is having a great impact on their way of life," anthropologist Alejandro Aguilar told Reuters in a telephone interview from Sonora.
"While some elders are trying to conserve traditional festivals linked to the maize harvest, the arrival of these groups from Sinaloa brings ... western clothes, cassette recorders, pistols and the consumption of alcohol," he added.
Aguilar said that the drug gangs had also intimidated some Indian communities into dropping traditional Holy Week Catholic Church rites to worship Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of the drug runners.
"The elements from Sinaloa are ... asking them to venerate the image of Malverde, the patron saint of the narcos, who is not recognized by the Church," Aguilar said.
Sinaloa is the cradle of the Mexican drug trade, where Chinese migrants first came in the 19th century to grow heroin poppies to make opiate-based pain killers for sale in the United States.
Since then, local drug gangs have continued to cultivate heroin and marijuana crops to smuggle north over the border and have transported tons of contraband cocaine for Colombia cartels.
Yeah I was about to say...that would be cool: fuck opium, heroin now comes directly oozing out of the poppy.
-------------------- "What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"
"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer
Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.
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