A prominent newspaper has released a list detailing homicides and crime in Mexico’s most violent municipalities, with the locations of these cities illustrative of the country’s current organized crime panorama.
Following an Interior Ministry press release from May 29 that established security taxes based on the “atmosphere of violence” in municipalities in the country’s 32 states, Animal Politico published its own analysis with murder and crime figures for the 29 most violent municipalities.
Of these, nine were in Chihuahua, six in Tamaulipas, five in Morelos, four in Guerrero, three in Sinaloa, one in Colima and one in Oaxaca. Animal Politico reported that a total of 2,674 homicides were registered in these municipalities, accounting for 12 percent of the 21,837 murders recorded nationwide between 2013 and the first part of 2014.
The five municipalities with the highest murder count in the period measured were Acapulco (Guerrero) with 1,077, Culiacan (Sinaloa) with 620, Cuernavaca (Morelos) with 163, Iguala (Guerrero) with 139, and Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas) with 102. These five municipalities also had the highest number of registered crimes.
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The majority of the cities listed by are housed in states with a significant organized crime presence, many of which are facing territorial battles between drug gangs.
The fact that the state of Guerrero is home to two of the five cities with the highest numbers of murders could be the result of power struggles between local gangs, including Los Rojos, a splinter group of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO). The city with the highest number of murders — Acapulco — is coveted by criminal organizations because of its status as a port city used for smuggling cocaine.
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Chihuahua — the state with the largest number of high-risk municipalities — is similarly attractive to drug traffickers because of its geographic location. Situated on the US border, this region has been the site of territorial battles between the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels for control of drug trafficking corridors to the United States. While much of this violence was formerly concentrated in Juarez and has diminished since the Sinaloans gained ostensible control, the state is also home to Mexico’s violent “Golden Triangle,” where opium poppies and marijuana are grown.
The border state of Tamaulipas has also faced turf wars, as the Zetas’ territorial stronghold has been challenged both from internal and external rivals. Recently Tamaulipas has seen a new upsurge in violence, which could be due to a power vacuum caused by the fall of prominent criminal leaders.
Meanwhile, the Sinaloa state capital Culiacan is the hub of the Sinaloa Cartel’s activities. Other criminal groups have encroached on their territory in recent years, while the February capture of cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias “El Chapo” could also have created some internal chaos.
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