One of Mexico's deadly drug cartels is muscling in on the multimillion dollar jellyfish industry, demanding that fishermen work "exclusively" for them.
Cannonball jellyfish, as well as several other sea products, are shipped to Asia and generate roughly $10million (£7.74m) in revenue over a three-month fishing period.
However, fishermen around the Santa Clara gulf, close to the US border in the north-western state of Sonora, have been unable to generate their share of the profits so far this year.
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According to The Daily Beast, heavily armed gunmen from the Sinaloa Cartel – considered by many to be the world's most powerful drug trafficking organisation – are preventing them from doing so.
One fisherman told the publication: "They want us to work for them exclusively, but we are afraid, we really don’t know what to do."
Sinaloa Cartel members reportedly set fire to several lorries belonging to jellyfish processing companies one month ago. It was a warning to the companies for them to stop trading with local fishermen and instead go to the drug traffickers.
"They threatened the drivers too, to stop coming to the coast to buy jellyfish, and now the whole industry is stalled," the fisherman added.
Cartels have long attempted to get in on the profits of industries outside of the narcotics trade. Their links to human trafficking are well-documented, and in some parts of South America they have their fingers in logging. There have even been instances of smaller cartels flogging pirated DVDs.
A Sinaloa Cartel operative told The Daily Beast their influence in the fishing industry is also not new, although moving into jellyfish is. The operative linked the move to their need to fund "war".
In Sonora, as well as across several other Mexican states, the Sinaloa Cartel finds itself engulfed by a bloody civil war. On one side are Los Chapitos, the sons of infamous drug lord Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, who took over the family business following their father's arrest in 2016.
On the other side is the elusive Ismael 'El Mayo' Zambada, thought to have been El Chapo's right hand man. Some even reckon El Mayo was pulling the strings behind-the-scenes all along.
Both of those factions are also fighting with rival cartels, especially the fearsome Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), for control of lucrative trafficking routes – meaning they need every last bit of cash they can get their hands on.
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