HomeNewsBriefCentral Mexico Reports Rise of Narco-Refugees

Central Mexico Reports Rise of Narco-Refugees


Officials in the relatively peaceful central Mexican state of Queretaro said the region has grown in recent years, due to an influx of so-called “narco-refugees” fleeing drug violence in more dangerous parts of the country.

According to Queretaro state government figures quoted by Milenio, 94,000 people have come to the state in the last five years, representing an average of 51 new arrivals every day and over two per hour.

The increase has been prompted by an exodus from other parts of the country, principally northern states, where drug-related violence has skyrocketed. Indeed, according to data from by Inegi, Mexico’s statistical agency, the population in the northern city of Juarez declined from 1.3 million to around one million in a period of two years.

The population increase is having an effect on local services and on employment in Queretaro, as Milenio reports. Currently, at least 60 percent of job applications in the state are made by individuals who have arrived from northern parts of the country, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (STPS).

Violence related to organized crime has also led to an increase in the number of people fleeing Mexico’s northern regions and attempting to cross the U.S. border. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 230,000 Mexicans currently qualify as having been displaced.

The issue of “narco-refugees” also exists in Central America, particularly Guatemala. A community of around 200 people in the north of the country sought refuge in Mexico in August, following a government operation against drug trafficking.

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.


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.


Related Content


A recent report has shed new light on how temporary work visa programs for migrant laborers can backfire.

COCAINE / 23 MAR 2022

The United States government has ramped up its pursuit of one of Guatemala’s most enduring drug clans – the so-called…

FEATURED / 20 SEP 2022

Authorities in Arizona are sounding the alarm about the rising use of outsiders as drivers for human smuggling.

About InSight Crime


Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…


Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…


Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…


InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…


Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.