Rising homicides, a high-level capture and a bloody military battle point to growing insecurity in Mexico State, which borders the capital, months after the federal government announced a plan to improve security in the state.
Between January and May this year, Mexico State, known as Edomex (Estado de Mexico), has seen the greatest number of homicides, violent car thefts, extortion cases, rapes and bank robberies in the country, reported Vanguardia.
The state, which is the most populous in the country, registered 838 homicides during the first five months of 2014 -- nearly 14 percent more than the same period in 2013 -- significantly higher than violent states such as Sinaloa, with 484 homicides, or Michoacan, with 464.
Mexico State was also the site of the recent capture of a reported Familia Michoacana cartel leader. Mexican officials confirmed the arrest of Jose Maria Chavez Magaña, alias "El Pony," on July 2 and identified him as one of the individuals responsible for an increase in violence in some areas of the state. At the time of his arrest, Magaña's group was allegedly embroiled in a fierce internal conflict in addition to fighting against the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) and Guerreros Unidos criminal groups for control of the state.
Magaña had reportedly been in charge of the Familia Michoacana's criminal activities in Mexico State since October 2011.
InSight Crime Analysis
The violence in Mexico State has called the attention of the federal government, which announced a "strategic plan" in March to improve security in the state, including doubling the number of federal police. The federal government's engagement can be explained in part by the fact that President Enrique Peña Nieto was, until 2011, the governor of Mexico State. Earlier this week, current Governor Eruviel Avila said that violence had gotten out of hand and the state needed support from the federal security forces.
The recent spike in violence in the state can be attributed to battles between rival cartels for control of the territory as criminal groups migrate from the neighboring states of Michoacan and Guerrero in response to security crackdowns there.
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Guerreros Unidos, a splinter group of the Beltran Leyva Organization, is one of the contributors to the insecurity. The group recently made international news when a battle with a military patrol left 22 members dead. According to BBC Mundo, Guerreros Unidos has only minor drug trafficking operations and relies mainly on kidnappings and extortion to generate profits. Unlike drug trafficking, these are inherently violent activities, which rely on widespread fear in order to make a profit.