Organized Crime Dominates in Mexico’s Most Violent Cities

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Many of Mexico’s most violent cities are home to competing criminal groups and drug-fueled conflicts, a clear sign of how organized crime is contributing to the country’s worsening security situation. 

The seven most violent cities in Mexico with a population of more than 100,000 are all in the states of either Colima or Guerrero, according to official figures collated by Animal Politico. Both of these states currently serve as battlegrounds between rival cartels.

Cities in states like Michoacán (Apatzingán, Zamora, Lázaro Cárdenas), Veracruz (Tierra Blanca, Papantla, Poza Rica de Hidalgo), Tamaulipas (Ciudad Victoria), Baja California (Playas de Rosarito, Tijuana, Tecate) and Sinaloa (Culiacán, Navolato, Mazatlán), which also have a high presence of criminal groups and illicit activity, are included as well in Animal Politico’s list of the country?s 50 most violent cities.

Some of the the worst-offending cities, however, share a state with Mexico?s least violent cities — Metepec and San Felipe de Progreso in the state of Mexico, for example, and San Andres Tuxtla in Veracruz.

2016-09-30-mex violent cities

Despite claims by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to the contrary, homicides in Mexico have been on the rise since early 2016 and are now back to highs not seen since 2012.

More homicides were officially reported in July this year than during any other month of Peña Nieto’s term. There were 2,073 homicides that month, according to the National Public Security System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública – SNSP). July’s homicides bring the 2016 total to 12,376, a 16 percent increase over the same period a year earlier.

InSight Crime Analysis

Animal Politico’s ranking is further evidence that the Mexican government is losing in its battle against organized crime, with the country?s security institutions incapable of reining in violence perpetrated by and between criminal groups.

Tecoman and Manzanillo in Colima, two of the three most violent cities in Mexico, are both battlegrounds likely due to the port of Manzanillo, an important arrival point for the precursors needed for the production of methamphetamine. Violence in the state of Colima as a whole has soared this year, and according to security analyst Alejandro Hope, is currently the front line of a war for control between the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels. The tiny state is sandwiched between two other violent entities — Jalisco and Michoacán, where only recently a state police helicopter was shot down by a criminal group, possibly the Knights Templar.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

Mexican authorities have made significant advances in battling the Knights Templar in Michoacán, as well as neutralizing a vigilante uprising turned nasty by transforming them into a Rural Defense Force. But that force has since been disbanded, and recent events point to an uptick in violence and a possible comeback for the Knights Templar.

As for Acapulco, Guerrero — one of the most violent cities in the world, not just Mexico — rivalries between dozens of gangs has for years seen murders happen on the beaches and boardwalks of one of Mexico?s tourism jewels. Criminal groups in Acapulco have fragmented, in part due to the weakening of the Beltran Leyva Organization. Authorities think that there could be as many as 50 different criminal groups operating across the state, which is the epicenter of poppy production in Mexico.

This list also shows how violence in Mexico isn?t generalized, but rather focused in specific regions and even sub-regions, which explains why in the same state — such as Veracruz and the state of Mexico — some cities can be plagued by violence while others are considered to be among the safest in the country.

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