Crime and Violence

Homicides continue trending toward decline in 2014 from previous year

Source: Justice in Mexico.
Source: Justice in Mexico.

07/31/14 (written by cmolzahn) — Although organized crime-related killings have remained relatively stable in Mexico in recent months, overall homicide levels (including both OCG and all other intentional homicides) have decreased through the first six months of 2014, continuing a trend from 2013. Several independent news sources and government agencies have continued tracking efforts on intentional homicide levels nationwide, resulting in varied reports, but all with a stable or decreasing trajectory.

According to media outlet Reforma, who no longer keeps tallies of state-level homicide counts, which Justice in Mexico relied prominently on in previous years, homicides related to organized crime groups (OCG) remained relatively flat during the second quarter of 2014, registering 1,830 such homicides compared to 1,816 during the first three months. Meanwhile, Milenio recorded 2,118 OCG homicides during that time, up slightly from 2,001 in the first quarter. For its part, monthly averages based on data reported by Lantia, a consulting group published in Excélsior, predicts there were 2,153 OCG homicides from April through June 2014, though June’s data was unavailable at the time of this report. This quarterly total is down slightly from Lantia’s January through March tally of 2,299.

Comparing this data against Mexico’s Executive Secretary of the National Public Security System (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de la Seguridad Pública, SNSP), which tracks all intentional homicides in Mexico, one can conclude that the percentage of homicides due to organized crime-related activities has remained relatively stable during the first half of 2014. For its part, SNSP found an average of just over 1,500 victims of intentional homicides per month, meaning Reforma’s monthly average for OCG killings in the second quarter (610 per month) makes up 40% of all homicides. Meanwhile, Milenio’s and Lantia’s OCG tallies (averaging 706 and 710 per month, respectively) account for 46% of SNSP’s total.

SNSP Comparison ChartIf SNSP’s average of just over 1,500 homicides per month for the second quarter continues through the second half of the year, 2014 will have seen just over 16,000 victims of intentional homicides nationwide. This is the first year that the SNSP has reported on the number of victims included in state attorney general’s offices’ murder investigations, but if we look at a similar projections based solely on the number of investigations into intentional homicide opened in 2014, averaging 1,350 per month, Mexico will see a roughly 12% decrease in such crimes, according to SNSP estimates. This follows a 15% decrease in 2013 from the previous year. Overall homicides—intentional and negligent—are on track for just a 3% decline in 2014 from 2013, after an 8% decline last year from 2012. Negligent homicides have actually trended slightly upward in recent years, underscoring the continued decline in intentional homicides.

For its part, Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, INEGI) reported that there were 22,732 homicides in 2013, or 19 per 100,000 residents, a 12% decrease from 2012. This closely reflects the estimate put forth in Justice in Mexico’s April 2014 “Drug Violence in Mexico” report, in which it was estimated that INEGI would report between 22,000 and 24,000 homicides for 2013.The number of homicides varied widely across states, with four states (State of Mexico, Guerrero, Chihuahua, Jalisco and Sinaloa) and the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF) accounting for more than half of all homicides nationwide. Guerrero had the highest murder rate among Mexican states, with 63 per 100,000 residents, while Chihuahua followed closely, with 59 per 100,000. States registering at least 10 homicides per 100,000 residents declined or stayed relatively level from 2012, with the notable exception of Baja California, which jumped from 17 to 23. Sonora, another northern border-state, increased from 19 to 23 homicides per 100,000 residents.

SNSP homicides by stateIt must be noted that INEGI’s annual tallies include all homicides, intentional (dolosos) and negligent (culposos), while SNSP differentiates between the two. The widely divergent findings of the two organizations underscores the importance of methodology in determining the number of homicides over a given period of time, as well as how difficult it is to arrive at an easily agreed-upon tally. While INEGI bases its count on death certificates obtained from the civil registry indicating that a victim died of unnatural causes, classifying these as “homicides,” SNSP has traditionally based its count on the number of investigations opened (averiguaciones previas) into probable murders, and has recently, in response to some of its critics, begun to provide data on the number of victims included in these investigations, acknowledging that often more than one victim is involved in a single murder investigation. Since the SNSP only began reporting on individual victims in January of this year, there are no such data to compare with those of INEGI. However, in 2013, based on averiguaciones previas, SNSP reported 18,388 intentional homicides, along with 16,679 involuntary homicides, totaling 35,067 cases of homicides, which is 54% more than INEGI’s estimate. As INEGI’s explanation of its own methods indicates, human remains with definitive signs of an unnatural death are required for inclusion in the tally, whereas SNSP’s methodology allows for the potential for including homicide investigations that were not able to determine whether a homicide even occurred. It must also be noted that both tallies, particularly that of INEGI, likely are unable to include the vast number of reported disappeared in Mexico, which the Mexican government estimated at over 26,000 between 2006-2012, before revising the number downward to 13,000. Others, however, maintain that the total is even higher.


Press Release. “En 2013 se registraron 22 mil 732 homicidios.” Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía.” July 23, 2014.

Secretaría de Gobernación. “Cifras de incidencia delictiva 1997-2014.” Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública. Accessed July 24, 2014.

Secretaría de Gobernación. “Informe de víctimas de homicidio, secuestro y extorsión 2014.” Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública. Accessed July 24, 2014.

Redacción. “Los 8 estados de México más peligrosos en 2014.” Aristegui Noticias. July 26, 2014.

“Ejecutómetro 2014.” Reforma. Last accessed July 29, 2014.

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