At the beginning of April, the Mexican army took US military officials, UN personnel, and officials from the US embassy on a tour of a half-dozen sites in the Golden Triangle — the heart of Mexico’s heroin country — to witness the destruction of opium poppies.

The trip marked the first time in at least 10 years that the Mexican army had allowed US and UN officials to observe poppy eradication, and, according to Reuters, more trips were being arranged.

The visit could put Mexico on the same footing as anti-drug operations in places like Colombia and Afghanistan.

It also coincides with US President Donald Trump’s efforts to address a withering opioid epidemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the US.

But if the US and Mexico are about to make the opium-poppy eradication a joint effort, they may find their progress stymied by conditions on the ground and the nature of their foe.

A US official told Reuters that the area of poppies under cultivation in 2016 was estimated at 32,000 hectares in 2016. In 2015, US data showed there were 28,000 hectares estimated to be under cultivation — triple the area under cultivation recorded in 2012.

Homeland Security chief John Kelly and CIA director Mike Pompeo reportedly flew over Mexican opium fields

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Featured image courtesy of Reuters