Crime and Violence

Homicides drop in 2013 amidst uncertainty

JMP_Graph_OCG_all_intentional_homicides_201301/29/14 (written by octaviusrod) — A context of conflict and violence marked the end of 2013 for Mexico with the arrival of even more armed self-defense groups (grupos de autodefensa) to combat criminal organizations given the government’s inability to provide security in certain regions of the country. The groups come at a time when more mass graves with dozens of unidentified corpses have also been discovered, while crimes such as kidnapping and extortion continue to rise. Yet all of these are happening while the Peña Nieto administration is apparently focused on not being obsessed with security.

As the Peña Nieto administration tries to shift the attention from security to other issues such as economical and structural reforms recently approved by Congress, the federal government has become the target of a wave of criticism from experts and the press for its unclear—or lack of—defined strategy to combat organized crime and criminality.

Yet according to President Enrique Peña Nieto, 2013 saw a 30% decrease in homicides with characteristics of organized crime groups (OCG), making clear the general reduction in violence since the Calderón administration (2006-2012), during which OCG-related violence accounted for nearly 70,000 victims, according to the Ministry of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB).

JMP_Graph_homicides_most_violent_states_2013The government’s alleged decrease in OCG violence nevertheless came at a time when the government was very reserved about disclosing any information on the topic and when OCG homicides were supposedly no longer distinguished from the general number of intentional homicides. The latter had been announced by SEGOB in August 2013 when it stopped releasing numbers on such homicides, a break from its regular monthly reporting, which it started in January 2013.

Indeed, according to data compiled by Justice in Mexico, in 2013 intentional homicides dropped 16% compared to 2012—which also showed a decrease of 3% from 2011—based on figures by the National System of Public Security (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SNSP). The same pattern is also reflected in OCG homicides, which decreased almost 20% according to data by Mexico City-based newspaper Milenio. Overall, 2013 had the lowest number of homicides in the last four years.

Total homicides as reported by SNSP for 2013 were 18,146, with the five most violent states— Chihuahua, Guerrero, Sinaloa, State of Mexico, and Jalisco—accounting for almost 43% of the nationwide total. Meanwhile Milenio reports that 10,095 OCG homicides occurred, with the same five violent states accounting for 53% of the national total, although in a different order as depicted in the chart above. It is important to note that in the case of Chihuahua, Milenio tallied a higher number of OCG homicides than the SNSP did for intentional homicides.

JMP_Graph_OCG_intentional_homicides_by_month_2013In 2013, between 55% and 65% of all intentional homicides were presumably OCG-related, depending on the source. The range varied by month, sometimes fluctuating as much as 33% and 83% of all intentional homicides, but it did level out by November when the sources reported relatively similar numbers.

While the downward trend in violence is evident, some experts are not convinced it is because of the federal government’s national strategy and public security efforts. Rather they cite that the violence dropped largely because of local level efforts and engaged civil societies, as exemplified in Ciudad Juárez and Monterrey. Nevertheless, as pressure on President Peña Nieto to establish public security increases, especially while states like Michoacán face an ever-changing and dangerous situation, the Mexican government is expected to finally shape a comprehensive strategy to combat organized crime for the remainder of the Peña Nieto administration (2012-2018).


Redacción. “Reconoce Segob 70,000 muertos por guerra de Calderón.” Aristegui Noticias. February 15, 2013.

Vargas, Rosa Elvira. “Alcanza a Peña en Davos el tema de la violencia, ‘el gran reto en AL’.” La Jornada. January 24, 2014.

López, Rafael. “En 2013, la menor cifra de homicidios en 4 años.” Milenio. January 2, 2014.

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