Down in Mexico’s tequila country, the thieves have been busy again. Tonnes of Chava Rosales’s crop of blue agaves, tended carefully for seven years and from which the drink is made, were cut and spirited away.

“They came one afternoon or at night, and the next day we saw the signs of the jima,” said Mr Rosales, 33, referring to the ancient harvesting technique. “It hurts. You get angry, you get sad and it provokes fear in the people who grow it.”

Tequila was once a drink of labourers and students, but others have caught on to Mexico’s favourite spirit. From 1995, when industry standards were established, to August this year, exports grew 227 per cent from 65 million to 211 million litres.

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