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Mexican cartel not only forced vendors to buy chicken at inflated prices, they sold them bad birds

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican drug cartel not only forced vendors to buy chicken at wildly inflated prices — they sold them chicken “not fit for human consumption,” investigators concluded this week.

Prosecutors in the State of Mexico this week concluded a monthslong investigation that found the hyper-violent Familia Michoacana cartel had been forcing small stores and market vendors to buy chicken at almost twice the normal price.

But to add insult to injury, test results released Monday on chicken found at one cartel-controlled warehouse in the city of Toluca — just west of Mexico City — found additives, some of which prosecutors said were potentially cancer-causing.

State prosecutors said they are “continuing with investigations of two warehouses seized on March 27 in Toluca because of their presumed links with extortion, and crimes against consumers.”

“The seized food products are not fit for human consumption,” the report said, citing the presence of potassium and sodium tartrate, among other additives found in the chicken.

The investigation began in December, when, days before Christmas, four chicken-processing workers were abducted from one of the warehouses.

Strangely, in a country where kidnap victims are often never seen again, the four men were found later unharmed and freed from a vehicle.

Prosecutors said last week they later discovered the workers at the warehouse had been abducted by the gang as part of a dispute with rivals, because the kidnappers wanted that warehouse for themselves.

The two warehouses raided last week were lucrative enterprises, because prosecutors said the cartel threatened customers if they did not agree to buy chicken at a price of 48 pesos ($3) per kilogram higher than the going rate, which is about $3 per kilogram.

In other words, the gang, which is known for ambushing police patrols and massacring an entire town government in 2022 — sold bad birds at twice the going price.

Mexican cartels have gone to extreme lengths to diversify their income beyond just trafficking drugs, extorting money from everyone from tortilla shops to bus and taxi drivers. They have violently taken over legitimate business ranging from iron ore mining to internet service.

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