HomeNewsBriefDrug, Paramilitary Violence Creates Ghost Towns in Mexico
BRIEF

Drug, Paramilitary Violence Creates Ghost Towns in Mexico

MEXICO / 2 FEB 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

Three towns in Mexico have lost large portions of their residents in recent years, as locals fled worsening violence at the hands of drug gangs and paramilitaries, according to a report from Animal Politico.

Animal Politico says that between 2005 and 2010 the municipalities of Santo Domingo Ixcatlan, Praxedis G. Guerrero, and Guadalupe lost 44.5, 43.6, and 29 percent of their populations.

Praxedis G. Guerrero is a border town with key infrastructure for the drug trade and has become a battleground for the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels. This town became famous when its 20-year-old chief of police, Marisol Valles (see photo), sought asylum in the United States after just five months on the job.

In nearby Guadalupe, radio operator Erika Gandara decided to undertake solo patrols of the 6,200 square kilometer community when the municipal police force disbanded in 2010. She disappeared in December 2010 when armed men kidnapped her from her home.

In the case of Santo Domingo Ixcatlan, called a "ghost town" by one human rights advocate, paramilitaries with alleged links to local government have driven out almost half the population over an ongoing land dispute.

InSight Crime Analysis

These small towns have been devastated by violence. In Praxedis G. Guerrero, for example, three people were killed in gang confrontations in 2008, a number that spiked to 33 in 2009 and 35 in 2010.

While each case has different protagonists, they share a common factor in that the government appears unable or unwilling to halt the violence. Mexico's security forces have, in many cases, been stretched to breaking point or simply abdicated, with the majority of staff quitting or being dismissed.

Small-town police forces like Guadalupe's have been whittled down to nothing, and college students have become police commanders because nobody else will take the job.

The trend is not limited to small towns. Veracruz, Mexico's largest port city, recently dissolved its police force of more than 800 officers and 300 adminstrative staff.

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.

Tags

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

EL CHAPO / 23 FEB 2015

One year after the arrest of legendary drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, an increase of violence in the Sinaloa…

MEXICO / 26 MAY 2013

In the coming days, the Mexican government will begin to implement social programs around the country as part of its…

MEXICO / 5 MAR 2018

A gun battle on the campus of Mexico’s largest university that left two dead underscores how the country’s continued…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

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.