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.

Compartir icon icon icon

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

MEXICO / 2 DEC 2011

Mexican army troops have dismantled a sophisticated communications network, believed to have been operated by the Zetas…

MEXICO / 6 OCT 2016

A recent report has found that nearly one in ten of Mexico's police officers may be unfit for service, underscoring…

EL CHAPO / 18 OCT 2019

Residents of Mexico’s Sinaloa state capital of Culiacán were paralyzed with fear as gunfire erupted after authorities briefly detained and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…