Implications of Lopez Obrador’s Security Agenda

06/30/2018 (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa)-  On July 1, 2018, in one of the most unprecedented elections of its history, Mexico elected a new President. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known by his initials, AMLO, will be Mexico’s next President. Previously having run for president in 2006 and 2012, his victory, though groundbreaking, is not surprising. AMLO consistently led election polls in comparison to the other major party candidates, Ricardo Anaya and Jose Antonio Meade.

It goes without saying that 2018 will stand out in Mexico’s election history. For the first time ever, independent candidates were able to seek presidential nomination. In addition, aside from electing a new party candidate, Mexican citizens voted for over 18,000 elected positions. With 89 million eligible voters, the highest in Mexican history, election outcomes have the potential to markedly change Mexico’s political landscape. On that note, Lopez Obrador’s victory may significant influence on Mexico’s relationship with its northern neighbor, the United States. Even more so, however, Lopez Obrador’s proposed security agenda could have unique implications on Mexico’s current security.

Lopez Obrador’s Background

Born in Mexico’s state of Tabasco, Lopez Obrador went on to study political science and public administration at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Autónoma de México, UNAM), Mexico’s largest public university. Lopez Obrador’s political experience is rooted in Mexico’s long standing political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI). In 1976, he actively supported and campaigned on behalf of PRI Senate Candidate, Carlos Pellicer.

Lopez Obrador left the party in 1988 to join the National Democratic Front (Frente Democrático Nacional, FDN), a dissident left-wing coalition assembled to challenge the hegemonic rule of the PRI. That same year, Lopez Obrador ran as opposition for Tabasco’s governorship. Although he lost, he ultimately became the president of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, a center-left party founded from the remnants of the FDN. Lopez Obrador served as PRD president from 1996 to 1999.

Throughout his tenure, Lopez Obrador continued to build his political stature, including campaigning for indigenous rights, and organizing protests against Mexico’s behemoth energy company, Mexican Petroleum (Petróleos Mexicanos, PEMEX), and PRI corruption. In 2000, he was elected as Mexico City’s mayor. His time in office was considered to be generally successful as his administration significantly improved Mexico City’s infrastructure, including remodeling the historic metropolitan center, expanding highways and improving public transportation with the introduction of Metrobus, a public transit system.

Lopez Obrador resigned from his mayoral position in order to seek presidential nomination for the PRD for the 2006 Presidential elections. Although he led the majority of the election polls, National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) candidate, Felipe Calderon, edged ahead by less than one percent.  Lopez Obrador protested the election results, demanding a recount and even held a public “inauguration” declaring himself the legitimate president of Mexico. Lopez Obrador ran again for president in 2012, once again falling short and alleging election

Supporters for Andres Manuel López Obrador. (Guillermo Arias, The New York Times)

Supporters for Andres Manuel López Obrador. (Guillermo Arias, The New York Times)

fraud.

Ultimately, Lopez Obrador stepped away from the PRD and founded his own political party in 2014, the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional, MORENA).  In coalition with a left-wing Labor Party (Partido del Trabajo, PT), and right-wing Social Encounter Party (Partido Encuentro Social, PES), Lopez Obrador once again sought presidential candidacy in the 2018 elections.

A Revised Security Agenda  

Under the slogan, “Together we will make history (Juntos Haremos Historia),” Lopez Obrador successfully led a center-left campaign that captured over 50% of the vote with one of the highest election margins in Mexican political history. His firebrand promises to bring change to Mexico, resonated with many Mexican voters. Lopez Obrador emphasized his determination to uproot corruption across Mexico and address rampant issues of poverty and violence.

In particular, his rule of law and security-specific proposals include: creating a National School of Public Security to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on corruption among law enforcement, establish state-level entities and obligatory trainings to monitor and increase the professionalization of law enforcement officials across Mexico, target the socio-economic roots of organized crime to reduce the incentive of organized crime, reform the 19th Constitutional Article to allow for preemptive imprisonment for corruption crimes, and analyze the efficiency of the Judiciary Council and revise the structure of the federal judiciary, in particular the Supreme Court, accordingly.

One of Lopez Obrador’s most controversial security proposals includes amnesty legislation for the purpose of reducing cyclical patterns of socio-economic insecurity in Mexico. Following his election, Lopez Obrador held his first security cabinet meeting to further develop the parameters of this proposed legislation. According to Alfonso Durazo- Lopez Obrador’s selection for Secretary of Public Security, a newly reinstated position of state- amnesty would be key to the new administration’s security agenda.

Notwithstanding that amnesty is a politically ionized concept, particularly in Mexico’s current state of insecurity, some see it as a step towards the de-escalation of Mexico’s violence. Raúl Zepeda Gil, a security expert for the Institute Belisario Domínguez of the Senate of the Republic (Instituto Belisario Domínguez del Senado de la República), identifies three ways in which amnesty could introduce effective mechanisms for reducing violence, including: the perspective of post-conflict pacification, alternative sentencing for minor/non-violent acts, and revised drug regulations. Although, he concedes that implementing amnesty comes with another set of issues, such as sustainability and corruption, Zepeda highlights the benefits of amnesty negotiations and transitional justice strategies applied in Colombia, a country which experienced violence and organized crime similar to Mexico. Ultimately, he argues that amnesty legislation for Mexico may in fact be an effective formula to redressing systemic patterns of violence and socio-economic instability.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Olga Sánchez Cordero.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Olga Sánchez Cordero. (Marco Ugarte, Associated Press).

These aforementioned and often controversial mechanisms are already under-consideration and open to public debate, according to Olga Sánchez Cordero, Lopez Obrador’s selection for Secretary of Government. In a recent Seminar on Violence and Peace: Forget, Truth, or Justice? (Seminario sobre Violencia y Paz: ¿Olvido, verdad o Justicia?), she affirmed that the new administration will be open to transitional justice mechanisms in their bid to uphold a human rights-focused agenda. In the words of Sanchez Cordero, Mexico needs new institutions and new systems to amend its reality, including amnesty negotiations, but also alternative and reduced sentencings, the decriminalization of certain drugs, reparation polies, and socio-economic policies targeting the recovery of public spaces.

Lopez Obrador’s intended approach has already elicited a response from the White House, in particular the topic of narcotic policies. In answer to the possibility that Mexico may legalize drugs, Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, asserted that the United States no way supports the legalization of drugs. However, Sanchez Cordero’s proposals have thus far only suggested the decriminalization of marijuana and opium.

Although Lopez Obrador is adamant in his promise to reinvent the security strategies used in Mexico, critics are skeptical, pointing out that his proposed security policies are relatively experimental in Mexico. Regardless, on election day, Mexican voters were willing to take a leap of faith. In the words of Laura Chinchilla, former President of Costa Rica, recent populist elections reflect a regional demand for change. “The results are not endorsements of ideologies, but rather demands for change, a fatigue felt by people waiting for answers that simply have not arrived (New York Times).”

Upon accepting his appointment as President elect, Lopez Obrador stated that under his leadership he will “establish an authentic democracy” in Mexico. Political promises, apprehensive criticisms and hopeful constituents aside, only time will reveal the attainability of Lopez Obrador’s proposed security agenda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

“Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. July 2, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Andres-Manuel-Lopez-Obrador

Palacios, Surya. “Perfil: Quien es Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)? Alto Nivel. July 2, 2018. https://www.altonivel.com.mx/elecciones-2018/amlo/perfil-amlo-lopez-obrador/

Lafuente, Javier. “La Victoria de López Obrador lleva al poder a la izquierda en México.” El Pais. July 2, 2018. https://elpais.com/internacional/2018/07/02/mexico/1530496335_470433.html

Najar, Alberto. “5 razones que hacen históricas las elecciones presidenciales en México.” BBC Mundo. July 1, 2018. http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-43578377

Ahmed, Azam and Paulina Villegas. “Lopez Obrador, an Atypical Leftist, Wins Mexico Presidency in Landslide.” The New York Times. July 1, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/01/world/americas/mexico-election-andres-manuel-lopez-obrador.html

“Esto fue lo que dijo López Obrador tras su Victoria electoral (discursos completos).” Animal Politico. July 2, 2018. https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/07/discursos-lopez-obrador/

Zepeda Gil, Raúl. “Pacificación a la mexicana: apuntes sobre la propuesta de amnistía de López Obrador.” Nexos. July 9, 2018. https://seguridad.nexos.com.mx/?p=886

The Potential Effects of Violence on the Mexican Economy

Source: DIMSA

06/01/18 (written by Quinn Skerlos)- In the shadow of its most violent year in decades, Mexico experienced economic challenges and a downturn in economic growth rates. As the country faced an average of 80 intentional homicides per day in 2017 (El País), CNN reports that Mexico’s economic growth rate also fell almost a full percent, while 2% GDP, rising interest and inflationary rates show more signs of economic trouble. While levels of rising violence cannot be held fully accountable for this period of economic contraction- as lengthy NAFTA negotiations and widespread distrust in electoral processes also play a part- the Mexico Peace Index has suggested that violence is an obstacle for the Mexican economy.

 

Violence Generating Threats to Business

According to the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, companies are consistently tasked to deal with the threat of theft, extortion, and violent attacks against their employees and supply chains. Mexican companies, such as “Grupo Lala,” closed distribution centers in states with high crime and intentional homicide rates like Tamaulipas.

In Guerrero, another state grappling with high homicide rates, the Coca Cola bottler, Coca-Cola FEMSA, closed a major distribution center. The firm previously employed 160 people at that location. FEMSA may be a major international business player, but most small and medium companies face similar challenges. According to Canacintra, a Mexican industry association, in recent years approximately 6% of annual revenue goes into defense for these small and medium sized firms. FEMSA pinned the violence on “a lack of rule of law and the prevalence of impunity (Associated Press).” According to Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE), “high levels of violence have become the greatest obstacle to economic activity,” ultimately impeding economic activity across Mexico and heightening the risk workers face in their everyday occupations (Reuters).

 

International investment in Mexico is has also been impacted. Just recently, in the state of Chihuahua, Canada’s Pan American Silver Corp scaled down operations after a series of threats by armed groups against employees. A large number of employees were sheltered in the mine over the weekend of May 25-27, while others were airlifted out. As workers are impeded from getting to job sites, large and local companies deal with threats and broken supply chains, multinational firms potentially reconsider investment in Mexico. While this incident highlighted the challenges for international companies operating in Mexico, Mexico’s nationalized companies, such as Mexican Petroleum (Petróleos Mexicanos, PEMEX), have faced similar dilemmas. It is estimated that the theft of oil and gas from PEMEX is equal to about one billion dollars annually.

 

Source: CNN

The Bigger Picture

According to Reuters, in 2017 alone, violence cost the economy 2.18 trillion pesos (106 million US dollars), and the Mexico Peace Index shows that the Mexican government increased violence containment spending by 70% in the past decade. According to the Mexico Peace Index, said statistics could suggest a parallel between violence with economic instability.

According to a recent Pew Research poll, in 2017, Mexicans were generally unsatisfied with their country’s progress. The ruling party, Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), presidential candidate is sitting behind the pack in a distant third place. The emergence of a new popular party in the recent elections might show a dissatisfaction with the status quo. A 2018 Bloomberg poll shows that the leadership of Mexico will likely change after the upcoming election. What that means for the rule of law and the economy in Mexico is still unknown.

 

 

Sources

Angulo, Sharay., Esposito, Anthony. “Businesses turn up the heat on Mexican government over crime surge.” Reuters. May 28, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-violence/businesses-turn-up-heat-on-mexican-government-over-crime-surge-idUSKCN1IU031

Verza, Maria. “Canadian mine latest business affected by Mexico violence.” Associated Press. May 28, 2018. https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/canadian-owned-mine-cuts-back-mexico-safety-55491513.

“El Banco Mundial en Mexico.” Banco Mundial. April 16, 2018. http://www.bancomundial.org/es/country/mexico/overview

“3 Focos Rojos Para El Crecimiento Economico de Mexico En 2018” Expansion. March 12, 2018. https://expansion.mx/economia/2018/03/12/3-focos-rojos-para-el-crecimiento-economico-de-mexico-en-2018

Stargardter, Gabriel. “The Refinery Racket.” Reuters. January 24, 2018.  https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/mexico-violence-oil/

“Mexico Peace Index 2018.” Institute for Economics and Peace. 2018.

Perez, David Marcial. “Mexico cerrara 2017 como el mas violente en 20 anos.” El Pais. December 23, 2017. https://elpais.com/internacional/2017/12/23/actualidad/1513997748_288693.html

Vice, Margaret. Chen, Hanyu. “Mexicans are Downbeat on their Country’s Direction.” Pew Reseearch Center, September 14, 2017. http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/09/14/mexicans-are-downbeat-about-their-countrys-direction/

Ahrens, Jan Martin. “Sobrevivir en Tamaulipas.” El Pais. April 15, 2015. https://elpais.com/internacional/2015/04/15/actualidad/1429128474_283895.htm

Gayol, Rafeal. Manuel Rodriguez, Carlos. Spinetto, Juan Pablo. Walsh, Brandon. “Mexican Election Coverage.” Bloomberg. June 25, 2018. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-mexican-election/

 

 

 

“El Resurgimiento del Crimen Violento en Tijuana”: Análisis de Justice in Mexico

05/18/18 (by Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira and David A. Shirk) — Justice in Mexico has released a new Spanish translation of “The Resurgence of Violent Crime in Tijuana” by Jaime Arredondo, Zulia Orozco, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk.

The publication provides an assessment of the recent resurgence of violent crime in the Mexican border city of Tijuana in the state of Baja California. Drawing on the latest available information and statistics, the authors examine the varied trends in the major categories of violent crimes in Tijuana: homicide, assault, robbery, extortion, kidnapping, rape, and other sex crimes.

Below you will find a detailed summary of the report in Spanish. For a detailed summary in English, click here.

Descargar “El Resurgimiento del Crimen Violento en Tijuana”

Análisis: El Resurgimiento del Crimen Violento en Tijuana

El análisis del programa Justicia en México de la Universidad de San Diego, elaborado por de Jaime Arredondo Sánchez Lira, Zulia Orozco, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira y David A. Shirk, bajo el título “El Resurgimiento del Crimen Violento en Tijuana” proporciona una evaluación del reciente incremento de delitos con violencia en la ciudad fronteriza del estado de Baja California. Basándose en la información y las estadísticas disponibles más recientes  los autores examinan las distintas tendencias de las principales categorías de delitos violentos en Tijuana: homicidio, asalto, robo, extorsión, secuestro, violación y otros delitos sexuales.

Según la Secretaría de Seguridad Pública del Estado de Baja California, el número de homicidios en 2008 y 2009 alcanzaron los 1,094, que en ese momento representaban niveles récord de violencia para la ciudad. Sin embargo, a partir de 2015, la ciudad experimentó un aumento gradual en el número de homicidios en 2015 (612 casos con 674 víctimas), 2016 (872 casos con 919 víctimas) y 2017 (1,618 casos con 1,780 víctimas) que ahora han colocado a la ciudad en la cima del incremento nacional de homicidios, en donde Tijuana representa cerca del 6% de todas las víctimas de homicidio en México.

 

Los autores han encontrado que la distribución de la violencia en Tijuana es desigual, y refleja divisiones geográficas, económicas y sociales. Al examinar los datos de homicidios a nivel colonia, los autores encontraron que dicha violencia está altamente concentrada en áreas específicas, principalmente en tres grupos que corresponden a zonas específicas dentro de la ciudad: Tijuana Oriental (que comprende las delegaciones de La Presa, La Presa Este y Otay). la delegación de Sánchez Taboada y la delegación Centro. También encontraron que el 20% de todos los homicidios se concentraron en solo 10 de las aproximadamente 850 colonias de Tijuana. De ellos, las tres colonias más violentas representaron el 10% de todos los homicidios en el municipio: Camino Verde (75), Zona Norte (49), Zona Centro (32).

Mientras tanto, las tendencias delictivas se han mezclado para generar otras formas de crímenes violentos en Tijuana en los últimos años. Por ejemplo, los robos a mano armada en espacios públicos también han disminuido en general desde su punto más alto en 2008-10, cuando en promedio se contabilizaban más de 300 incidentes reportados por mes. De 2015 a 2017, la incidencia promedio mensual bajó a aproximadamente la mitad de esa cantidad, sin embargo, en los últimos años ha habido un fuerte aumento en el número de robos a mano armada en establecimientos comerciales de Tijuana llegando a los 300 incidentes reportados por mes, además de registrarse un aumento en el número de robos de automóviles de los 7,655 casos reportados en 2016 a 10,148 en 2017, es decir, unaumento del 32.6%.

 

 

En un esfuerzo por explicar estas tendencias, los autores ofrecen una visión general de la historia reciente del crimen organizado en Tijuana, con la consideración del papel que han desempeñado en las recientes olas de violencia. Los autores encontraron que ha habido un cambio importante en las dinámicas de la delincuencia organizada en Tijuana después de la detención y posterior extradición de Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, quien una vez comandara el cártel de Sinaloa. Desde la caída del capo, una nueva organización criminal, conocida como el “Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación” ha afianzado su presencia en Tijuana y ha enfrentado directamente a los restos del cártel de Sinaloa. En medio del conflicto entre estas poderosas organizaciones criminales—y el vacío de liderazgo en la ciudad—ha habido una falta de control sobre pandillas, traficantes y vendedores de drogas ilícitas, y grupos dedicados a otras actividades ilícitas, todo a nivel de cada esquina, calle y colonia.

Para abordar los problemas delictivos recientes de la ciudad, los autores ofrecen una discusión de las respuestas de seguridad pública y las opciones de políticas disponibles para abordar la crisis de seguridad actual en Tijuana, con algunas recomendaciones generales de política pública para abordar los desafíos recientes de la ciudad. Los autores presentan cinco conjuntos generales de recomendaciones:

Abordar la marginación social y económica:

  1. Invertir en programas de desarrollo social y económico
  2. Implementar estrategias de policía comunitaria en zonas altamente violentas
  3. Mejorar el transporte público y el acceso a las colonias
  4. Programas de desarrollo juvenil y social
  5. Recuperación y creación de espacios públicos

Combatir el crimen organizado:

  1. Reducir la dependencia en la estrategia de Kingpin
  2. Reforzar la capacidad local de las agencias de seguridad pública ante la dinámica cambiante del delito
  3. Disuasión concentrada de la violencia

Atención a Poblaciones Especiales:

  1. Centrarse en prevenir y detener la violencia doméstica
  2. Aumentar la sensibilidad a la atención de víctimas especiales por parte de la policía
  3. Ajustes estacionales en despliegue de la fuerza y en los ​​esfuerzos de atención a víctimas

Ser inteligentes en el tema de las drogas:

  1. Programas de rehabilitación para el uso drogas
  2. Programas de prevención de uso drogas
  3. Colaboración binacional en nuevas regulaciones de marihuana en California
  4. Desarrollar un enfoque de salud pública basado en la evidencia empírica

Mejorar el análisis del crimen y la violencia

  1. Reportar las coordenadas geoespaciales precisas de los crímenes
  2. Profesionalizar el monitoreo y análisis del delito
  3. Fortalecer los programas de estudios criminológicos
  4. Divulgación de pública de la información

 

Descargar “El Resurgimiento del Crimen Violento en Tijuana”

April 2018: News Brief

 

05/05/18 (written by Genesis Lopez)-

Discover the important headlines in Mexico from April 2018.

 

Film Students are killed and dissolved in acid

 

Source: Twitter (Excelsior)

Source: Twitter 

In March of 2018, three film students- Javier Salomón Aceves Gastélum, Daniel Díaz, and Marco Ávalos were last seen in the municipality of Tonalá, Jalisco. The three students were originally reported missing until news broke last week informing the public that they were in fact tortured and murdered. Authorities interviewed over 400 people, allowing them to better understand what happened to the students leading up to their deaths. It is reported that the three students were filming in a safe house belonging to the Cartel Nueva Plaza, the rivals of Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). They were confused with members of the rival cartel, leading them to be kidnapped and tortured by armed suspects. The students were taken to another safe house where they were dissolved in acid.

The investigation continues to stay open and has led the authorities to various possible suspects, including rapper QBA, also known as Ciro Gómez Leyva. QBA confessed to working with the CJNG and told officials he was in charge of putting the bodies in acid. The news prompted a response nationwide. The governor of Jalisco, Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz, expressed his solidarity to the families who were affected and promised to keep the investigation open until they apprehend all those who were involved.

Sources:

Luna, Adriana, “Fiscalía confirma muerte de estudiantes desaparecidos en Jalisco.” Excelsior. April 23, 2018.

Estudiantes desaparecidos en Jalisco, asesinados y disueltos en ácido.” Forbes Mexico. April 24, 2018.

Luna, Adriana, “Rapero ‘QBA’ fue el encargado de disolver cuerpos de los tres estudiantes: fiscal.” Excelsior. April 25, 2018.

 

Green Party Candidate is Murdered in Morelia

 

Source: Maribel Barajas Cortés Facebook (Excelsior)

Source: Maribel Barajas Cortés Facebook 

On April 11, 2018 in Michoacán, Maribel Barajas Cortés was found dead in a ranch located in a vicinity of Las Flores, Morelia. She was a candidate of the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (Ecologist Green Party of Mexico, PVEM) and was running to be a local representative. In a public report, the Office of the State Attorney General stated that her death was caused by 8 wounds and a hard hit to the head. In the days following the murder, the authorities investigated this case by tracking footage of Maribel’s car, which ultimately led them to the house of a woman named Aurora.

In due course, Aurora “N” was apprehended for being connected to the femicide of Maribel Cortés. The Attorney General said that Aurora “N” was supposedly contracted by Maribel to assassinate her current boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. The two allegedly agreed to meet and subsequently, negotiated a deal wherein Maribel was to give Aurora 10 million pesos and her car in exchange for the murder of her boyfriend’s former partner. However, the negotiations were derailed, ultimately leading to the murder of Maribel. Aurora is awaiting trial in a Morelia prison known as “Mil Cumbres”. Maribel’s death prompted a response from the PVEM through Twitter. They expressed their condolences and spoke out against violence towards candidates, calling for more thorough investigations and protections in place for those participating in elections.

Sources:

Asesinan a Maribel Barajas, candidata del Partido Verde a una diputación en Michoacán.” Animal Politico. April 11, 2018.

Davish, Francisco García, “Asesinan en Michoacán a candidata del Verde.” Milenio. April 12, 2018.
Tinoco, Miguel García, “Internan en Cereso a mujer detenida por asesinato de candidata del PVEM.” Excelsior. April 15, 2018.

Tinoco, Miguel García, “Candidata asesinada en Michoacán habría contratado a su presunta homicidio.” Excelsior. April 16, 2018.

Arrieta, Carlos, “Vinculan a proceso a presunta homicida de candidata en Michoacán.” El Universal. April 21, 2018.

 

Doña Lety indicted on charges of organized crime and drug trafficking

 

Source: Especial (Excelsior)

Source: Especial 

Famed drug lord, Doña Lety, was indicted for crimes of association to organized crime and drug trafficking in April 2018. Her capture in August 2017 was pivotal for local authorities in Cancun because she was seen as promulgating violent disputes within the city. Leticia Rodriguez, better known as “Doña Lety”, is reportedly a former police officer and one of the few women in Mexico to be the head of a drug cartel. A Mexican court established proceedings against “Doña Lety” and her organized crime group, Cártel de Cancún, which operate in Cancun, a popular tourist destination. “Doña Lety” and her cartel- who allegedly holds ties to El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel, plays a predominant role in the drug market of Cancún and Playa del Carmen. The Cartel de Cancún has been operating since 2005, with the alleged help and protection of local authorities. It is reported that a number of Doña Lety’s cartel members were previously involved with other criminal organizations and served as judicial officials.

According to Fox News, the recent incline in murder rates within Cancún is believed to be directly linked to the constant turf war between Cartel de Cancún and their rival, Los Zetas. These two organized crime groups are fighting for control over key drug trafficking plazas in the local region. Most recently, on April 25, 2018, five dead bodies were found stuffed in a car that was reported stolen a month prior. It is stated that murder rates in Cancún have doubled in the past year, with over 113 people killed in 2018 so far.

Sources:

Garcia, Dennise, “Cae Doña Lety; controlaba la venta de droga en Cancún.” El Universal. August 10, 2017.

Reyes, Juan Pablo, “Vinculan a proceso a “Doña Lety” por delincuencia organizada.” Excelsior. April 10, 2018

Eustachewich, Lia. “Cancun murder surge fueled by alleged drug queen’s turf war.” New York Post. April 12, 2018.

Galicia, Alejandra, “Encuentran 5 cuerpos embolsados en un vehículo de Cancun.” La Silla Rota. April 25, 2018.

 

 

 

 

2018 Drug Violence in Mexico Report

Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 201704/11/18- Justice in Mexico, a research and public policy program based at the University of San Diego, released its 2018 special report on Drug Violence in Mexico, co-authored by Laura Calderón, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk. The report examines trends in violence and organized crime in Mexico through 2017. The study compiles the latest available data and analysis of trends to help separate the signals from the noise to help better understand the facets, implications, and possible remedies to the ongoing crisis of violence, corruption, and human rights violations associated with the war on drugs.

Mexico experienced dramatic increases in crime and violence over the last decade. The number of intentional homicides documented by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics, Geography, and Information (INEGI) declined significantly under both presidents Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) and Vicente Fox (2000-2006), but rose dramatically after 2007, the first year in office for President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012). All told, throughout the Calderón administration, INEGI reported 121,669 homicides, an average of over 20,000 people per year, more than 55 people per day, or just over two people every hour. Over that period, no other country in the Western Hemisphere had seen such a large increase either in its homicide rate or in the absolute number of homicides.

Yet, over 116,000 people have been murdered under Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), despite his campaign pledge that violence would decline dramatically within the first year of his administration. In fact, there were an average of 23,293 homicides per year during the first five years of Peña Nieto’s term, nearly 4,000 more per year than during Calderón’s first five years in office. As such, the annual average number of homicides under the Peña Nieto administration is now about 20% higher than during the Calderón administration, whose first two years saw much lower levels of homicide.

In 2017, state-level increases in intentional homicide cases were found in all but 6 states. The top five states with the largest number of intentional homicide cases in 2017 were Guerrero (2,318), Baja California (2,092), Mexico State (2,041), Veracruz (1,641), and Chihuahua (1,369). In 2017, the state with the largest annual increase in total homicides was Baja California, with most of that increase concentrated in the city of Tijuana, as discussed below. However, the largest percentage increases in homicide cases were found in Nayarit (554% increase) and Baja California Sur (192% increase). At the state level, the largest numerical and percentage decrease in homicides was found in the state of Campeche, which saw 67 homicide cases in 2017, down 17 cases (20% less) compared to the previous year.

 

Journalists and mayors are several times more likely to be killed than ordinary citizens. According to a recent Justice in Mexico study by Laura Calderón using data from 2016, Mexican journalists were at least three times more likely to be killed (.7 per 1,000) than the general population (.21 per 1,000), and mayors are at least twelve times more likely (2.46 murders per 1,000). Justice in Mexico’s Memoria dataset includes 152 mayors, candidates, and former mayors killed from 2005 through 2017, with 14 victims in 2015, six in 2016, and 21 in 2017. In total, nine sitting mayors were killed in 2017.

Mexico’s recent violence is largely attributable to drug trafficking and organized crime. Tallies produced over the past decade by government, media, academic, NGO, and consulting organizations suggest that roughly a third to half of all homicides in Mexico bear signs of organized crime-style violence, including the use of high-caliber automatic weapons, torture, dismemberment, and explicit messages involving organized-crime groups. Based on INEGI’s projected tally of 116,468 homicides from 2013 to 2017, at least 29.7% and perhaps as many as 46.9% of these homicides (34,663 according to newspaper Reforma and as many as 54,631 according to Lantia consulting service) appeared to involve organized crime.

In early 2017, the notorious kingpin leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was extradited to New York to face charges of organized crime, murder, and drug trafficking, among others. The analysis in the Drug Violence in Mexico report suggests that a significant portion of Mexico’s increases in violence from 2015 through 2017 were related to inter- and intra-organizational conflicts among rival drug traffickers in the wake of Guzmán’s re-arrest in 2016. In particular, Guzmán’s downfall has given rise to a new organized crime syndicate called the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG). Thus, the surge of violence following Guzmán’s arrest is one of the negative effects of targeted leadership disruption by law enforcement, often known as the “kingpin strategy.”

The country’s recent violence could be a concern in Mexico’s 2018 presidential election. The worsening of security conditions over the past three years has been a major setback for President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), who pledged to reduce violence dramatically during his administration. Peña Nieto has received record low approval ratings during his first five years in office, in part due to perceptions of his handling of issues of crime, violence, and corruption, particularly after the disappearance and murder of dozens of students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero in 2014. Mexico will hold elections in July 2018 and the next president will take office in December 2018. Since there is widespread concern about Mexico’s elevated levels of crime and violence, candidates for public office will feel pressure to take a stand on these issues and may even be targeted for violence for violence.