Around 200 families in the state of Sinaloa have been forced to flee their homes due to death threats from a criminal group allegedly linked to the Zetas, adding to the hundreds of thousands of people internally displaced by organized crime in Mexico.
As La Jornada reports, the families from the community of El Tecomate de la Noria have sought refuge in the state's second-largest city, Mazatlan. An official from the municipal Secretariat of Public Security told the newspaper that the families had taken what they could carry from their homes and fled by car, taxi, and even hitchhiking. This is the fifth community in Mazatlan municipality to have been displaced by threats and/or violence from armed groups.
Sinaloa is one of the regions in Mexico most affected by displacement, with state agency the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights (CEDH) estimating that there are currently between 25,000 to 30,000 internally displaced people in the state. According to La Jornada, Sinaloa has registered displacements in 11 out of 18 municipalities.
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Unsurprisingly, Sinaloa and other states with high levels of organized crime-related violence have experienced the highest rates of displacement. According to a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) released earlier this year, displacements are 4.5 times as likely to take place in violent rather than non-violent municipalities in Mexico. The international body counted a total of 141,900 people displaced by drug trafficking violence since 2007, with a majority of displacements concentrated in violence-racked states such as Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, and Michoacan, among others.
[See InSight Crime's special on the new face of displacement in Latin America]
With an estimated 230,000 people displaced last year, there are few signs that the phenomenon is abating. The government has recently taken some key steps towards formally recognizing the displaced population, including announcing plans to create an official registry of people displaced by organized crime. Creating a process by which victims of displacement are formally recognized by the national government is the first step in ensuring that the "refugee" population can receive more support from international relief services.