Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Friday he wanted to change the name of a notorious drug-producing area known as the “Golden Triangle” to the “Triangle of good and hard-working people”.
The remote mountainous region of northern Mexico is where the borders of the three states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango meet.
For decades drug cartels have used the area to grow marijuana and opium poppy because much of the area is difficult to access and has little police or military presence.
But López Obrador said during a visit to the area on Friday that the name unfairly stigmatizes locals.
“I don’t like it, I don’t like it being called the Golden Triangle, and I hope we can all try to find a way to call it ‘The Triangle of Good and Hardworking People’ or “the good neighbors region”, or something like that,” he said.
“That has to change already because there’s a lot of goodness here, a lot of good, hard-working people, as has been said,” the president said.
López Obrador has sometimes praised drug cartel bosses and in 2019of Ovidio Guzman, one of the sons of “El Chapo” Guzman, to avoid bloodshed after Sinaloa Cartel gunmen assaulted the town of Culiacan in an attempt to secure his release.
In 2021, López Obrador hailed the largely peaceful vote in the election that year and sent a message of appreciation to the drug cartels who fuel much of the violence in the country.
“People who belong to organized crime have been very well behaved, in general there has been little violence from these groups,” the president said. “I think the white collar criminals acted worse.”
Mexico is trapped in a spiral of cartel violence that has claimed more than 340,000 lives since 2006, when the government launched a controversial drug operation with federal troops. Last month, authorities said gunmen suspected of a drug cartelat gunpoint for several hours.
That same month, López Obrador confirmed thattrained by US authorities to fight drug cartels as he was infiltrated by criminals.
In March, López Obrador accused popular TV shows of glorifying the violent drug trade. He criticized TV series on platforms such as Netflix, saying they presented a rosy version of drug dealer lifestyles.
He told reporters the shows featured “drug-dealing gangs, with actors, men, beautiful women, property, the latest cars, jewelry, designer clothes, power.”
Earlier this month, Mexican authorities announced that theyof the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). Francisco Javier Rodriguez Hernandez, known as “El Señorón” or “XL” or “Frank”, was apprehended in the tourist town of Mazatlan, in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, during an operation carried out by naval officers.
The Justice Department considers the Jalisco Cartel “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.”
The head of CJNG,is one of the world’s most wanted drug lords, with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration offering $10 million for his arrest.
“He’s the number one priority of the DEA and frankly federal law enforcement in the United States,” said DEA Agent Matthew Donahue.in 2019.
AFP contributed to this report.