Narco Cultivos is a metaphor in order to analyze how primitive drug trafficking can be, compared to physarum polycephalum. It can be primitive for they think but they also act as an instinct. Every three days important cities related with drug dealing are attacked in a 3D printed version of Mexico where physarum polycephalum lies. The way this organism moves in reaction to the quantity of food, gives us an insight of what would happened with power, control, drugs movement or even people if drug cartels were to be attacked.


Drug trafficking is a major world problem, one of the main countries involved in this violence and trade is Mexico. A 2015 Congressional Research Service report estimates at least 80,000 people were killed in Mexico due to in organized crime related incidents since 2006. Most of the organized crime relies on drug trafficking.

There are many things involved in drug traffic, even though it is all about money and power, it is also about connections, who works for whom, how many people are involved, what’s the amount of land they “own”, etc.. In this case power to drug dealers is food for physarum polycephalum.


There are around 10 powerful cartels actively working in Mexico, most of them concentrate only in one area. Mexico is the main connection with the United States and South America, where most of the drugs come from. They also come from Asia into Mexico’s Coasts. The United States is one of the main drug consumers of the world and given the political situation of Mexico, it seems even logical that drug cartels be so powerful in this country.

This is a map, based on a Stratford 2015 information, representing how drugs are moved across the country.



A 3D printed version of Mexico was placed in a container. Based on the map, oats were placed in the cities involving drug dealing, physarum polycephalum was then place near them so he could create the optimized and possible connections. Physarum was left for a period of three days and afterwards more oats were placed in specific cities following a strategy of attack. First the coast cities and some cities in the north were fed by means not attacked. In the hypothetical situation, coasts cities would still be receiving product from other countries, this would mean power for them and food for physarum.


The next step to follow was to feed three coast cities: Tampico, Ciudad Obregón, Mérida and Cancún (Physarum did not seem to pay much attention to these last two cities) and two cities in the middle: Torreón and Guadalajara, this last one was not previously fed but now it made sense to feed it for the product would move to the middle part in an attempt to get the power and the food to the north and towards the United States.


In the third stage only one city in the coast was fed: Ciudad Obregón and two central ones: Torreón and Guadalajara. The intention was all the time to make physarum weaker. To analyze his movements across the container and specially across Mexico’s map. This could probably give us an insight of what would happened if drug cartels were attacked for real. Let us not forget physarum is a social organism, it is best known for creating connections, going after food and learning.


The whole process and the time lapses can be found here.