HomeNewsAnalysisMexico Murder Reports Reveal Sharp Rise in Killings
ANALYSIS

Mexico Murder Reports Reveal Sharp Rise in Killings

HOMICIDES / 1 AUG 2011 BY PATRICK CORCORAN EN

According to one newspaper account, Mexico is on pace to surpass last year’s record-breaking tally of murders, though the regional distribution of bloodshed is shifting significantly.

As the Trans-Border Institute reports, Reforma, one of Mexico City’s most prominent daily newspapers, counted 7,443 organized crime-related murders between January 1 and July 25, a 20 percent rise from the same period last year.

The federal government hasn’t released its totals for this year, but the number of organized-crime related murders reported by the authorities has for the last couple of years been significantly higher than most media counts. For example, Reforma counted 11,583 in 2010, while the government later said there had been 15,273.

The Trans-Border report implies that the pattern of divergence between the two scores will repeat itself. Looking at last year's figures, this could mean that the government would count more than 20,000 drug killings in 2011 -- an extremely high number. However, the difference between the media and government figures has never been properly explained, so there is no real reason to assume that it will continue; the two counts may simply end up closer together in 2011, for any number of possible reasons.

A more nefarious possibility is that the government might intentionally massage the numbers downward. Organized crime is a vague designation, and the line between this and street delinquency is not always clear. A government intent on demonstrating that violence has plateaued could adopt a stricter definition for organized crime-related killing, and therefore point to a drop in drug violence.

Beyond the numbers themselves, the distribution of the killings is also striking. As Trans-Border stated (and as InSight Crime has noted in the past), the level of violence in Juarez has dropped off substantially in 2011: while 350 people were killed in October 2010, the figure dropped to a two-year low of 150 in May. (The figures have since rebounded, though with 216 murders in July, Juarez is still far less violent today than last year.)

But despite the substantial drop in killings in the city, sometimes referred to as the most dangerous on earth, violence in Mexico as a whole appears to be on the upswing. In particular, the murder rates have spiked in Guerrero, the southern Pacific state where a number of different gangs are gunning for control; Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, where the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel have been engaged in a battle for territory since early 2010; and Durango, where internecine battles among different Sinaloa Cartel factions are thought to be behind the discovery of hundreds of bodies in clandestine graves around the state capital.

Such increases count against the government’s assertion that the violence is strictly limited to a few geographic regions.

The Trans-Border report comes days after a report from INEGI, Mexico’s governmental statistical agency, which put the final total of all murders in Mexico in 2010 at 24,374. This represents a nearly 25 percent jump from 2009, in which 19,803 people were murdered across the country, including in killings unrelated to organized crime.

This continues a worrying trend past several years; after a low of 8,867 homicides in 2007, the number of murders has nearly tripled. The increase in violence related to organized crime is the biggest reason for the rise in overall murders -- according to the government data, the number of murders not related to organized crime actually declined in 2010 by roughly 1,000.

The increase in violence, while more severe in some regions than others, is widespread, further undermining the government’s argument that the drug violent is concentrated in a handful of hotspots. According to INEGI, only three of the country's 31 states witnessed a decline in the murder rate from 2005 through 2010.

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

HOMICIDES / 13 APR 2017

The beginning of 2017 has brought a striking increase in violence to Tijuana, Mexico and the surrounding region, as competition…

INFOGRAPHICS / 24 MAY 2016

A new survey documents the effect crime is having on the way citizens in Mexico go about their daily lives…

INFOGRAPHICS / 11 JAN 2012

The killing of a Texas family on a bus in east Mexico before Christmas remains a mystery; it does not…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

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…