Mexico Govt: Organized Crime Murders Down for May

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The Mexico government registered an average of 30.7 organized crime related murders a day throughout May — a figure that represents a significant drop from the previous month, although doubts remain over the validity of the official numbers.

According to government statistics, there were a total of 954 murders linked to organized crime in May — 8.6 percent less than in April (see chart below). Of the 954 murder victims, 927 were allegedly criminals, 24 public officials and three believed to be innocent bystanders.

The May figures bring the total number of organized crime related murders since the start of the Enrique Peña Nieto administration last December to 6,247 — a 16.5 percent fall from the year before.

The State of Mexico has seen the most dramatic change in murder rates, recording a 70 percent drop in just five months, from an average of 6.9 murders a day in December to 2.1 in April. However, Mexico State’s Attorney General Miguel Angel Contreras cautioned that the figure was preliminary. Despite the recorded fall, the state remains one of Mexico’s five most dangerous, according to official figures.

InSight Crime Analysis

Calculating the number of organized crime related deaths in Mexico is at best an imprecise art and at worst open to political manipulation.

As Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope has noted in InSight Crime, the figures released by the Peña Nieto government so far raise numerous questions as to what methodology they are using and whether it can be trusted.

In the first four months of the Peña Nieto administration, murders unrelated to organized crime went up while organized crime murders fell. This discrepancy suggests either the country as a whole is becoming more violent as the cartels are becoming less violent, or that the government is using different criteria for classifying murders.

If they have changed the methodology, comparisons with previous time periods count for little, and the government’s claims that security is improving should be treated cautiously.

Also contentious is the government’s labeling of almost all the murder victims as criminals, again demonstrating how the current administration is continuing the heavily criticized practice of previous President Felipe Calderon of casually criminalizing the dead in Mexico’s drug war. 

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