Mexican border state Chihuahua and the southwest state of Guerrero tied for highest murder rate in the country in 2012, according to preliminary homicide figures released by the country's statistics institute, which depict trends reflecting changing dynamics in Mexico's criminal conflict.
Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reported a 2012 countrywide homicide rate of 22 per 100,000 residents, with 26,037 violent deaths. Chihuahua and Guerrero had homicide rates far above the national average, at 77 per 100,000 residents, with 2,783 and 2,684 murders, respectively. The only state that surpassed these two in homicide numbers was Mexico state, with 2,905, though its homicide rate was actually below the national average, at 18 per 100,000.
The statistics reported by INEGI showed a downward trend for homocides in Chihuahua state and an upward trend for Guerrero. While Chihuahua's rate peaked in 2010 with a rate of 182 per 100,000, Guerrero homicide rates have risen significantly since that year, when they were at 45 per 100,000.
Other states with high 2012 homicide rates included Sinaloa and Durango, both with 48 per 100,000 residents, and Tamaulipas, with 46 per 100,000.
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Guerrero and Chihuahua were also the two most dangerous states in Mexico in 2011, with homicide rates of 70 per 100,000 and 126 per 100,000, respectively, according to INEGI. However, the difference between Guerrero rates and those of Sinaloa and Durango was much smaller that year -- Sinaloa saw a rate of 69 per 100,000 and Durango 63 per 100,000.
As InSight Crime has noted, the climbing rates in Guerrero as rates drop in other parts of the country that have been central to the conflict reflect a shift in drug violence patterns. The drop in Chihuahua rates is likely linked to the Sinaloa Cartel's consolidation of power in the state, which put an end to a violent war with the Juarez Cartel. In Guerrero, meanwhile, rival splinter groups of major criminal organizations, such as the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG) and the Knights Templar are fighting violent turf wars.
SEE ALSO: Juarez After the War
In this context, the low 2012 homicide rate in Michoacan (18 per 100,000) is interesting as it, like neighboring Guerrero, is home to these same splinter groups and the Familia Michoacana, and has experienced high levels of violence in 2013. In just one week in July 2013, the state reportedly saw 36 homicides, and rising insecurity led the national government to deploy thousands of soldiers to the state earlier in the year.