>> The Mexican army says it's fight to destroy surging opium production, fueled by the United States' record heroin epidemic, is becoming more difficult and deadly. Violent gangs engulfing the state of Guerrero, turning once peaceful mountain valleys and luxury beach towns into some of Mexico's bloodiest spots. Reuters correspondent Michael O'Boyle embedded with soldiers in the region.
>> Behind me is a platoon of Mexican Army troops who are preparing to head out on an eradication operation. It's very grueling work. It's blistering hot here, and they're gonna be targeting fields of opium poppies that have been identified by Army intelligence.>> Bodies have been found tossed by the roadside or buried in mass graves.
We traveled into the remote mountains where a constant war rages over the lucrative poppy fields hidden in the brush.>> First of all, you have the battle between the different drug gangs, who are fighting to control the production of opium up here. They are fighting each other for the land.
Then on the other hand you have the war with the military. The military is out daily looking to find the hidden opium fields, and destroy them, they're getting involved in gun battles with the drug traffickers who are protecting those opium fields.>> With limited resources the Mexican army has trouble snuffing out all of the poppy fields in the very inaccessible mountains.
Many see a direct link between Mexico's rising poppy production and the growing heroin epidemic in the United States. Which has risen five fold in the past decade, with the biggest jumps among whites and men with low incomes. Back in one of Mexico's poorest and remote regions, troops press on fanning through the treacherous terrain destroying tens of thousands of fields a year with no end in sight.