HomeNewsAnalysisMexican Govt Stops Publishing Data on Crime-Related Deaths
ANALYSIS

Mexican Govt Stops Publishing Data on Crime-Related Deaths

HOMICIDES / 31 AUG 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

The Mexican government will not continue to release statistics on the number of homicides related to organized crime, leading critics to accuse the administration of withholding the data for political reasons.

In an interview with Reforma, an official from Mexico’s federal ministry of security said they would not publish data on Mexico’s crime-related murders from before President Felipe Calderon leaves office on November 30.

Jaime Lopez Aranda, the head of the database center for the National Public Security System (or SNSP, for its initials in Spanish) told the newspaper that the statistics were a “failed experiment.”

In his personal opinion, Aranda added, “the Mexican state shouldn’t classify murders by organized crime because it deeply undermines criminal procedure.”

The government will continue to release statistics on “intentional” homicides (or “homicidios dolosos”), but will not divide the figures between those related to drug cartel wars, and those that are not.

Poet and activist Javier Sicilia, who heads a peace movement demanding new anti-crime strategies from the government, told Reforma that the decision was akin to creating a “mass grave.”

The government has continued to release figures on the total number of “intentional” homicides seen in Mexico, counting 10,617 murders during the first half of 2012. But the last time the SNSP released statistics on a tally of “organized-crime-related” murders was in September 2011, when the SNSP reported that Mexico saw 47,515 murders related to organized crime since Calderon took office in 2006.

Mexico City-based consulting firm Lantia Consultores released its own count of how many organized-crime-related murders have been registered in Mexico so far in 2012, counting 7,022 homicides.

The Attorney General's Office also kept a seperate count on crime-related murders, but announced in January that they would no longer release the numbers.

InSight Crime Analysis

In some ways, the decision by the SNSP makes sense. Much of the criteria used by the government to classify deaths as “organized-crime-related” versus “non-organized-crime-related” did not represent a definitive answer on why a given victim was killed. As Aranda pointed out, ultimately it is the duty of the courts to determine whether a murder is linked to organized crime or not.

Specifically, deaths were classified as related to organized crime if they involved the use of a high-power firearm, if there was evidence of torture, or whether the killing looked like an “execution-style” murder, as well as other criteria.

This led to arbitrary classifications. Aranda appeared to imply as such in his interview with Reforma, calling the government statistics “approximations.”

Eduardo Gallo, former head of peace organization Mexico United Against Crime, told Reforma that the government was not releasing the statistics because they didn’t want the number of deaths to be associated with Calderon’s government.

In some ways, this is a legitimate complaint. The government does have political reasons for not making its tally of organized-crime-related murders public. Doing so could fuel further criticism that the human costs of Calderon's security strategy far outweigh the perceived benefits.

But considering that it is already problematic enough classifying which of Mexico’s criminal groups deserve to be labeled as “organized crime,” the SNSP’s categorization system was already using slippery terms. Arguably, in order to gain a real understanding of how violence is trending in Mexico over time, the government could do just as well focusing on the overall tally of homicides, rather than trying to divide them up with somewhat arbitrary designations.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

AYOTZINAPA / 5 JUL 2020

Authorities in Mexico have announced a fresh wave of arrest warrants against government officials for their alleged connection to the…

MEXICO / 21 SEP 2011

The bodies of 35 alleged Zetas members were left beneath an underpass in downtown Veracruz, south Mexico, in the latest…

CARTEL DE SINALOA / 22 OCT 2020

The walls have now been patched up. There is nothing left on the streets but dust; customers are ready to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…