02/14/14 — The state capital of Oaxaca was found to be Mexico’s most violent municipality in 2013 and the state of Guerrero to be Mexico’s most violent state, according to a recent study by the Mexican organization Security, Justice and Peace (Seguridad, Justicia y Paz, SJP) of the Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y Justicia Penal A.C.). The report, “La violencia en los municipios y las entidades federativas de México (2013),” analyzed crime rates in all municipalities with over 100,000 (216 of Mexico’s more than 2,400 municipalities) and in all of Mexico’s 32 states. Each were ranked based on a graded system used by SJP taking into account rates of homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, physical assault, violent robbery, and extortion.
The study found Oaxaca, Oaxaca to have the highest cumulative rate of violence with a total of 106.6 points, almost five times the national average (23.2). It had the highest rate of physical assault (1,239.5 per 100,000) for the second year in a row, which is nearly ten times the national average (130.2). It also has the second highest rate for violent robberies (906.7 per 100,000), the sixth highest for extortion (24.0), and the eleventh highest for homicides (51.8). The municipality of Acapulco, Guerrero ranked second behind Oaxaca with an accumulated score of 80.35 points, which was largely due to its homicide rate of 112.8 per 100,000—the highest in the country. While Acapulco dropped one spot from being ranked the most violent municipality in 2012, so, too, did Cuernavaca, Morelos, which fell from second in 2012 to third in 2013. Cuernavaca’s overall crime score in 2013 (65.3 points) includes the highest rate of violent robbery (994.9 per 100,000) and extortion (66.97), and the fourth highest for kidnapping (14.67) and sexual assault (36.55). Meanwhile, Victoria, Tamaulipas had the highest rate of kidnapping (23.3 per 100,000) per municipality, and Solidaridad, Quintana Roo had the highest for sexual assault (49.5). Other highlights from the SJP report include the finding that five of the top 20 most violent municipalities are in the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex), while three more are each in Guerrero and Morelos. As well, the three least violent municipalities were Tantoyuca, Veracruz (overall score of 4.2), García, Nuevo León (2.21), and Zapotlán el Grande, Jalisco (0.0).
The SJP attributes the municipalities’ high crime rates in large part to the impunity that plagues Mexico. The report points out that the 20 most violent municipalities also have high levels of impunity based on available 2012 data. Notes SJP in a write-up on its report, “While the rate of punishment for homicides in the country was 15.91% (meaning sentencing those responsible for 16 of every 100 crimes committed), in [the top 20 most violent] municipalities the rate was 7.27%.” For sexual assault, the rates were 19.26% compared to 16.9%; for physical assault, 6.26% compared to 2.31%; and for kidnapping, “allegedly” 92.98% compared to only 39.78%. SJP also argued its belief that in particular the municipality of Oaxaca, Oaxaca is overrun by impunity because of the highly powerful chapter of the National Syndicate of Education Workers (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación y sus aliados, SNTE) operating there, Section 22 (Sección 22). Section 22 fuels “a climate of disorder and aggression” by committing crimes, avoiding punishment, and therefore undermining the law. The NSTE has long been in the spotlight for its powerful role in Mexico, particularly under corrupt leader Elba Esther Gordillo Morales who was arrested in 2013 for alleged embezzlement of union funds.
For the first time, the Security, Justice and Peace report also ranked Mexico’s 32 states, including the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF), for their levels of violence based on accumulated crime rates. The state of Guerrero was found to be the most violent in 2013 with a score of 47.8 points, followed by Morelos (44.0), Chihuahua (40.9), Sinaloa (34.7), and Edomex (32.8). Four U.S.-Mexico border states ranked in the top ten most violent states, with Chihuahua in third, Coahuila in sixth, Baja California in seventh, and Tamaulipas in tenth, while Nuevo León and Sonora made the top 20 in 17th and 19th place, respectively. Looking at specific crime rates per state, Guerrero had the highest rate of homicide (69.6 per 100,000) and third highest for kidnapping (6.0). Meanwhile, Morelos had the highest rates of kidnapping (8.2 per 100,000), violent robbery (455.1), and extortion (22.0); the second highest rate for sexual assault (23.6); and the tenth highest for physical assault (169.5). The least violent states were Campeche with a score of 8.4 points, Tlaxcala (8.4), Veracruz (9.0), Chiapas (11.9), and San Luis Potosí (12.3).
The SJP recently published a report on the most violent cities in the world based strictly on homicide rates, which found that nine Mexican cities ranked in the top 50. While Acapulco was considered the third most violent city in 2013 with a homicide rate of 112.8 per 100,000, Culiacán ranked 16th (rate of 54.6), Torreón 18th (54.2), Chihuahua 21st (50.1), and Ciudad Victoria 22nd (49.2). Read more on that report here.