Executions linked to organized crime in Mexico have risen to record levels during the first six months of 2018, according to a new report, underscoring how shifting criminal dynamics continue to negatively impact levels of violence in the country.
A record 11,241 executions linked to organized crime groups in Mexico were recorded during the first six months of 2018, an average of more than 60 per day and a 28 percent increase from the same period last year, according to a new report from the watchdog agency Semáforo Delictivo and Lantia Consultores, a non-profit that tracks killings connected to organized crime.
The 310 percent increase in homicides in the Pacific state of Nayarit compared to the same time period last year was the highest in Mexico. This was followed by a 134 percent increase in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo and a 130 percent increase in the central state of Guanajuato.
On the other hand, northwestern Baja California Sur state, which was hit by a wave of violence in 2017, recorded a 52 percent decrease in homicides throughout the first half of 2018 compared to last year. The Pacific state of Sinaloa, home to the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, saw the next biggest decrease with a 28 percent reduction in homicides.
Lantia Consultores used their own methodology by collecting reports and using media coverage to gather the data on organized crime-related executions. They counted the total number of victims of organized crime as opposed to how Mexico's National Public Security System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública – SNSP) counts just the total number of homicide cases.
InSight Crime Analysis
Mexico’s criminal landscape has grown increasingly fragmented in recent years, and the shake up of the country’s underworld has had a severe impact on levels of violence.
The significant increase in homicides in Nayarit and Guanajuato states, which both border Jalisco state, the stronghold of the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG), is likely linked to a struggle for criminal control.
As InSight Crime recently reported, a splinter group of the CJNG known as the Nueva Plaza is battling the CJNG in and around the Jalisco capital of Guadalajara for control over criminal economies. At the moment, the Nueva Plaza has won control over the western part of the city while the group continues to battle the CJNG for control over several towns to the southeast of the city.
"There is an ongoing conflict between the CJNG, Nueva Plaza and components of the Sinaloa Cartel in that area," Mike Vigil, the former Chief of International Operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told InSight Crime.
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However, the significant decrease in homicides in Baja California Sur and Sinaloa suggests that criminal dynamics may have started to settle in other parts of the country.
According to Vigil, the Tijuana Cartel has stabilized its control over the Tijuana drug trafficking corridor along the US-Mexico border, which could explain the drop in homicides starting this year.
But Vigil told InSight Crime this "doesn’t mean that in the future some of the other cartels won't move into the area, which could immediately act as a catalyst for more wholesale violence."
"They can go from passive to volatile in a matter of minutes," he added.
Indeed, the report found that homicides in neighboring Baja California rose more than 25 percent during the first half of 2018.