HomeNewsAnalysisStudy: 2010 Record Year for Kidnappings in Mexico
ANALYSIS

Study: 2010 Record Year for Kidnappings in Mexico

KIDNAPPING / 7 FEB 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Kidnappings in Mexico are at a record high and are more than twice as likely to end with the death of a hostage, says a Mexican think-tank in a new study based on data from two federal government agencies. According to the report, Mexico registered 1,847 kidnappings in 2010, 209 of which resulted in the murder of the hostages. This is more than double that of 2009 and the highest indice registered since 1971.

The study, issued by the Citizens' Council for Public Security and Penal Justice (Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Publica y la Justicia Penal - CCSP-JP), says it uses data from the Attorney General's Office and the National Public Security System, known by its Spanish acronym SNSP.

The report's 2010 tally includes the murder of 72 migrants killed last August by the Zetas in Tamaulipas. But the organization says that the actual total is likely much higher, as other possible kidnap cases involving migrants or "express" kidnappings are not counted by these government agencies.

In a press conference, CCSP-JP Director Jose Ortega Sanchez said that Mexico's kidnapping rate now stands at 195 cases for every million inhabitants, the second highest in the hemisphere after Venezuela. This is higher than Colombia in the early 1990s at the peak of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar's power, when the kidnapping rate was 62 cases per million, he said.

More kidnappings are likely to end in the death of the hostages than any other time in Mexico's history, the study argues. Since President Felipe Calderon assumed power in 2006, there have 494 reported hostage murders, an average of 123 per year, compared to 59 per year under President Vicente Fox (2000-2006). The CCSP-JP maintains that this indicates the government's approach to organized crime is not sustainable, as it has created a more unstable criminal landscape in which groups like the Zetas are more reliant on kidnapping for funding, or are more willing to kill their hostages in order to intimidate their many rivals. 

Ortega added that kidnapping data from municipal governments is often "falsified" or underreported, contrasting with the data maintained by the SNSP, the local press, the police or the military. Proceso reports that in Tamaulipas, a battleground between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the municipal government only reported 25 kidnap cases, when the military reported rescuing 173 people. Similar discrepancies can be seen in data from other states besieged by drug violence, including Nuevo Leon and Veracruz.

Few kidnappings are investigated or prosecuted, Ortega said during the press conference, because state governments want federal agencies to handle the cases. "State governments blame the federal government, saying all of of these kidnappings are being committed in the drug war and in the fight against organized crime, and as a result, they are the ones who need to investigate it," he said. "And the federal government says these kidnapping need to be investigated [at a municipal level]."

Mexican Congress passed a law in October 2010 that increased penalties for kidnappers to up to 70 years in prison. This was after two major kidnapping cases shocked the nation. One involved the deaths of 72 mostly Central and South American migrants by the Zetas in August. Since then another 50 migrants were reportedly taken by gunmen in Oaxaca in December.  The other noted case involved the mysterious kidnapping of noted politician Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, who was held hostage by a mysterious, apparently political group for seven months before his release in December.

The full CCSP-JP report can be downloaded here.

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

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 8 JUL 2016

The illegal trafficking of a fish endemic to Mexico's waters is reportedly a low-risk trade that is generating huge profits…

MEXICO / 29 SEP 2011

Two men described as trusted associates of Ciudad Juarez police chief Julian Leyzaola were shot dead in the Mexican…

EXTORTION / 13 OCT 2021

A new report claims the success rate of phone extortion is dropping in Mexico, but the fluid nature of this…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…