Justice in Mexico

Nexos Article Shows Connection Between Government Operations and Increase in Violence

06/05/11 — José Merino’s new article, “Los operativos conjuntos y la tasa de homicidios: Una medición,” published last week in Nexos, is gaining attention for its detailed and quantitative analysis of the federal government’s role in exacerbating the violence in Mexico over the past four years. Merino finds that where there are government interventions (i.e. military and police operations) in states wrestling with drug trafficking and drug-related violence, the level of violence in those states also increases.  He focuses mainly on the eight states that have seen military operations under President Calderón’s military-led strategy to combat drug trafficking: Michoacán, 2006; Baja California and Guerrero, 2007; Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, January 2008; Chihuahua, April 2008; and Durango and Sinaloa, May 2008.

To carry out his study, Merino relied on three different sources for homicide statistics in Mexico- the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, INEGI), the Secretary of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, SNSP), and the Association of Organized Crime (Asociados al Crimen Organizado, ACO)- the latter of which is published by the federal government. His decision to use all three sources was because, in his words, “We are interested in studying the relationship between phenomena, not to defend which source is more exact or better.” The data provided indicates that the level of violence today is higher than it would have been had the operations not occurred. INEGI reports that as of 2009, the death rate was at 19,054, yet without the military operations it would have been estimated at 13,954. For SNSP, the numbers show 16,117 homicides versus what would have been 12,226 deaths. Finally, ACO reported 15,254 killings versus the 10,421 deaths that would have been recorded without the operations.

Merino concluded by stating, “I have here the numbers from the war, with the information available that we can attribute to the presence of the operations. It remains, therefore, as another informative element with which to discuss the violence in Mexico, the causes, and the ownership of the government’s strategy to combat organized crime.”

To read Merino’s essay in Nexos, click here.


Merino, José. “Los operativos conjuntos y la tasa de homicidios: Una medición.” Nexos. June 1, 2011.

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