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BRIEF

Mexico Reports Drop in Crime-Related Homicides

HOMICIDES / 12 JUL 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Organized crime-related homicides in Mexico dropped during the first seven months of the new administration, according to various counts, though it is unclear whether this is representative of a wider trend.

According to numbers from the Interior Ministry (SEGOB), 869 homicides "related to federal crimes" were registered from June 1 through June 30, compared to 955 such homicides in the same period of 2012, reported Animal Politico -- a nine percent drop. June was the third consecutive month in which the government registered under 1,000 crime-related homicides, reported Excelsior.

Looking at the first seven months of President Enrique Peña Nieto's administration, officially reported organized crime-related homicides were down to 7,110 compared to 8,631 during the same period the year before, representing an 18 percent drop, according to Animal Politico. El Informador reported this number as 6,165, and El Universal as 7,128, but is was unclear where any of these media had sourced their "official" figures.

In breaking down the June numbers, SEGOB claimed that 96 percent of those murdered were criminals, "presumably responsible for illegal acts." SEGOB also reported that 1,096 alleged criminals were captured during June.

InSight Crime Analysis

Peña Nieto has -- at least vocally -- made violence reduction and crime prevention a key element of his security strategy, differentiating himself from predecessor Felipe Calderon, who focused on targeting criminal kingpins. However, this year's organized crime related pre-election violence was poor publicity for the president, and led to accusations that his party was once again forming alliances with organized crime.

As observed by analyst Alejandro Hope, Mexican homicide numbers are not straightforward, making it difficult to analyze trends. For one thing, the manner in which the government determines whether a homicide is "related to organized crime" is based on subjective interpretations of factors such as the type of weapon used. In addition, the variation in numbers released by different government bodies and independent sources raises questions about the accuracy of counts, particularly regarding "organized crime-related" homicides.

Government labeling of nearly all June victims as believed criminals is typical of both the present and former administrations, which have been criticized for quickly accusing victims of links to illegal activities, while failing to fully investigate the murders. 

"The authorities condemn murdered people, converting them into criminals, without offering the least evidence," wrote the editors of newspaper Vanguardia, after one of their photographers was accused of having links to drug traffickers after his body was found dismembered on the street.

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