A heavily armed Mexican policeman

A new report analyzing the data behind Mexico’s drug war shows in 2012 organized crime related killings declined or leveled off while becoming increasingly concentrated in key strategic areas.

The report, compiled by the San Diego University’s Trans-Border Institute, analyzed a range of data sources -- both official and independent -- to build a comprehensive picture of the shifting violence patterns in Mexico.

The most significant trend identified was the slowing rate of drug war killings. While the conclusions of different data sets varied widely, they agreed that in 2012 the substantial year on year increases Mexico has seen since 2007 came to an end.

According to data collated by Mexican newspaper Reforma, organized crime related murders dropped by over 21 percent, falling to 8,989 from 12,284. Projections for the government’s as yet unreleased figures show a 28% drop. However, figures from another media source, Milenio, showed an increase in its crime related murder tallies but by less than 1 percent – far lower than in previous years.

The report also highlights how Mexico’s drug war violence is increasingly concentrated. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of municipalities that recorded no murders dropped by 28 percent, while the number of municipalities with 25 or more annual homicides grew from 50 to 240. However, in 2012, (for which, the report points out, the data set is incomplete) the number of municipalities free from violence increased 16% while the number with more than 25 homicides decreased more than 25% to 178.

Over half the organized crime linked murders nationwide came from just five states; Sinaloa, Chihuaha, Nuevo Leon, Guerrero and Coahuila (although the order depends of the data set). 2012 also saw Acapulco assume the mantle of Mexico’s most violent city, even though the murder rate leveled off, while the cities of Monterrey, Torreon, and Nuevo Laredo posted the largest increases in crime related killings.

InSight Crime

While the authorities will probably lay claim to the slowdown in drug violence, it is likely a more influential factor has been changing dynamics in the Mexican underworld, as reflected by the shifting geographical patterns.

Several conflicts that fuelled the escalating violence, such as the all-consuming war for control of Ciudad Juarez between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Juarez cartel, have been resolved in the favor of one side or the other. New territorial disputes, such as the battle for Monterrey between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, have yet to reach the same level of intensity.

If, as suggested by Milenio, murders are not declining but leveling off, it could also be that drug war violence has simply reached a plateau.

Nevertheless, the end to year on year leaps in murder statistics is encouraging and if it continues may even provide the space for new President Enrique Peña Nieto to implement new security policies instead of reacting to an ever deepening crises.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.