2019 Organized Crime and Violence in Mexico Report

 

Download the full report here  

 

04/30/19- Justice in Mexico, a research-based program at the University of San Diego, released its 2019 report on Organized Crime and Violence in Mexico, co-authored by Laura Calderón, Kimberly Heinle, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk. This report analyzes the latest available data to broadly assess the current state of violence, organized crime, and human rights in Mexico. The tenth edition in a series is published under a new title to reflect the gradual shift that has occurred to the restructuring illicit drug trade and the rise of new organized crime groups.

In 2018, Mexico saw record violence with 28,816 homicide cases and 33,341 victims reported by the Mexican National Security System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SNSP). This reflects the continued augmentation in violent crime in Mexico for more than a decade with a notable increase in the last few years. The homicide rate has dramatically escalated from 16.9 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 as reported to UNODC to 27.3 per 100,000 in 2018 based on SNSP figures. In this and past reports, the authors attribute much of the violence, between a third to a half, to the presence of organized crime groups, particularly drug trafficking organizations.

According to the report, violence has become more pervasive throughout the country but remains highly concentrated in a few specific areas, especially in the major drug trafficking zones located in the northwest and the Pacific Coast. The top ten most violent municipalities in Mexico accounted for 33.6% of all homicides in Mexico in 2018, with 24.7% concentrated in the top five: Tijuana (2,246), Ciudad Juárez (1,004), Acapulco (839), Cancún-Benito Juárez (537), Culiacán (500).

 

 

Tijuana’s rate of 115 homicide cases per 100,000 inhabitants ranks second to Acapulco’s rate of 127 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. According to Baja California State’s Secretary of Public Security (SSP) reporting, Tijuana saw a significant increase in 2018 of 41% victims up from 2017.

The authors have found that Mexican organized crime groups have become more fragmented, decentralized, and diversified in their activities. Notably, violence in the Mexican state of Guanajuato appears to have risen due to the increased presence of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and an increase in the prevalence of petroleum theft (huichicol). At least nine municipalities in Guanajuato had a murder rate of more than 100 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

Record violence in Mexico has disproportionally affected certain populations (e.g. politicians, journalist, and men). In 2018, a major election year, there were 37 victims among mayors, mayoral candidates, and former-mayors. These numbers are up slightly from 35 cases in 2017 but demonstrate a significant increase from 14 victims in 2015 and 6 victims in 2016. A 2018 Justice in Mexico study found that in recent years Mexican journalists were at least three times more likely to be murdered than the general population, while mayors were at least nine times more likely. There were 16 journalists and media workers that were killed in 2018. Additionally, the report finds that men are 8.3 times more likely to be homicide victims than women, with 28,522 male homicide victims.

All told, the authors of the report estimate that over 150,000 people were murdered during the six years of the Peña Nieto administration, the most homicides during any presidential term in recent Mexican history. The current Lopez Obrador administration has proposed a new security agenda centered on citizen security, changes in federal law enforcement, and efforts to minimize tensions in U.S.-Mexican relations. Two of the most important measures that the new government has put forward are the creation of a autonomous federal prosecutor and a national guard.

 

 

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Judges of Michoacán Affirm Their Commitment to Public Security

Marco Antonio Flores addressing the accusations made by Governor Silvano Aureoles. Source: Mi Morelia

Marco Antonio Flores addressing the accusations made by Governor Silvano Aureoles. Source: Mi Morelia

06/27/17 (written by Lucy Clement La Rosa)- On Monday, June 12th, Marco Antonio Flores Negrete, head of the Supreme Court of Justice in the state of Michoacán, delivered a public statement before Michoacán’s Supreme Court of Justice and various judicial officials promoting the objectives of Michoacán judicial authorities. The statement directly addressed accusatory comments of judicial negligence made by Michoacán governor, Silvano Aureoles Conejo, before the Ministry of Public Security’s (Secretarios de Seguridad Publica, SSP) National Conference on Wednesday, June 7th in Morelia, Michoacán.

At the conference, Aureoles asked judicial authorities to recognize their role in public security, strongly implying a lack of juridical vigor in the state of Michoacán. The Michoacán governor emphasized the ardent efforts of the state’s executive officials on behalf of public security. However, he argued that these efforts were in vain without the joint support of the judicial administration. Aureoles argued that executive and judicial officials were not acting with “the same velocity” against violence and organized crime in Michoacán. He pointed to judicial authorities citing insufficient evidence resulting in the release of an alleged Michoacán organized crime leader on June 7th. “This significantly discourages and disheartens the efforts made [by the SSP],” declared Aureoles (El Sol de Morelia).

In response, Supreme Court Justice Marco Flores publicly defended the judiciary and insisted that the actions of Michoacán judges and magistrates were in accordance with both federal and state legislation. He stated that Aureole’s accusations were “unfounded and unsupported” (Mi Morelia). Flores emphasized the role of the judiciary within the parameters of Mexico’s democracy, highlighting the importance of justice unhampered by political agendas. “At all times, we have respected the division of powers in the State, which is the basis of democracy that protects us from unilateral and authoritarian intentions (Mi Morelia).”

The Michoacán judiciary is fully in support of public security efforts against violence and crime, asserted Flores. However, he reminded his audience that all magistrates and judges must act within the parameters of Mexico’s constitutional rule of law. Indirectly touching upon the release of the alleged criminal mentioned by Aureoles, Flores added, “Hence, if you fail to prove, with legal, appropriate and sufficient evidence, the alleged criminal act attributed to a person…the judge is obligated to release him, because the Constitution expects and demands it.”

Aureoles’ divisive accusations elicited other responses as well. Javier Gil Oseguera, president of the Association of Judges (Asociación de Jueces de Primera Instancia), echoed Flores’ public sentiments. “Justice is given in strict adherence to the law, respecting the principles of equality (Quadratín).” Furthermore, Judge Ramón Sánchez Magaña, the judge with jurisdiction over the disputed release of the supposed criminal on June 7th, continued to endorse the decision to release the individual due to a lack of evidence.

Violence and Crime in Michoacán

The heightened tensions between executive and judicial officials on the topic of public security are set among increasing levels of violence and crime in Michoacán. As documented by the latest Justice in Mexico Drug Violence in Mexico (2017) report, Michoacán was the Mexican state with the third highest number of intentional homicides in 2016 with 1,287 homicides. This number was a significant increase from 2015 with 922 categorized as organized crime group (OCG) homicides.

Additionally, the Drug Violence in Mexico report highlights a pattern of violence in Mexico against two categories of special victims: public officials and journalists.  According to the report, Michoacán ranked as one of the deadliest states in Mexico for both public officials and journalists in 2016. This trend continued into 2017 with the abduction of Salvador Adame Pardo, a journalist from southern Michoacán. Adame has not been heard of since his abduction. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Adame had reached out to them with concerns for his safety.

Sources

Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2016.” Justice in Mexico. March 30, 2017.

Mexican journalist abducted in Michoacán state.” Committee to Protect Journalists. May 22, 2017.

Jueces deben dar la cara para que seguridad no sea “sólo por hoy.” El Sol de Morelia. June 7, 2017.

Exige respeto Supremo Tribunal de Justicia; ‘jueces dan la cara en audiencias públicas‘”: Flores.” El Sol de Morelia. June 12, 2017.

Poder judicial pide al ejecutivo se respete división de poderes y trabajo de los jueces.” Mi Morelia. June 12, 2017.

Se excedió, dicen jueces por declaración de Ejecutivo del Poder Judicial.” Quadratín. June 12, 2017.

“Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2015” special report

Drug Violence in Mexico 2015 cover image

On Friday, April 29, 2016, Justice in Mexico, a research and public policy program based at the University of San Diego, released its 2016 special report entitled, “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2015.”

Drug Violence in Mexico (2016 Special Report)

Thanks to the generous funding of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this is the project’s seventh annual study on organized crime and violence in Mexico. As in previous years, this report compiles the latest available data and analysis to evaluate trends related to drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico.

This year’s report builds on past findings and seeks to provide new insights into Mexico’s recent security situation. The authors draw on the latest available data from multiple sources, with a focus on the rise in organized crime-related homicides in Mexico that reverses a three-year declining trend, as well as the emergence of cartelitos—smaller, fragmented cartel branches—in Mexico’s shifting drug trafficking landscape, and the Peña Nieto administration’s missteps and tone-deaf responses in a series of human rights tragedies and scandals in recent years. In fact, President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) saw the public’s lowest approval rating and highest dissatisfaction rating not just for his first three years in office, but also surpassing that of his predecessors, Presidents Vicente Fox (2000-2006) and Felipe Calderón (2006-2012).

Sources: INEGI, SNSP, Reforma, milenio, Lantia, CNDH.

Sources: INEGI, SNSP, Reforma, Milenio, Lantia, CNDH.

 

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2013. Global Study on Homicide 2013: Trends, Context, Data. Vienna: UNODC.

Source: Justice in Mexico Memoria dataset.

Source: Justice in Mexico Memoria dataset.

Source: Justice in Mexico Memoria dataset. Map generated by Theresa Firestine.

Source: Justice in Mexico Memoria dataset. Map generated by Theresa Firestine.

Among the study’s most important findings is the increase in homicides in Mexico in 2015, up 8.1-8.7% from the number of homicides registered in 2014. The authors also found that between a quarter and a half of all homicides in Mexico in 2015 were attributed to organized crime groups. Meanwhile, there were increases in cases of intentional homicides registered in all but a handful of states, with the highest increase in Guerrero jumping from 1,514 cases in 2014 to 2,016 cases in 2015.

“Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2015” was co-authored by Kimberly Heinle, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk.

To read the full report, click here.

Drug Violence in Mexico (2015 Special Report)

2015 Drug Violence in Mexico-Portada

On Wednesday, April 28, 2015, Justice in Mexico, a research and public policy program based at the University of San Diego, released its 2015 report entitled “Drug Violence in Mexico (2015 Special Report)”.

Drug Violence in Mexico (2015 Special Report)

Thanks to the generous funding of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this is the project’s sixth annual study on organized crime and violence in Mexico. As in previous years, this report compiles the latest available data and analysis to evaluate trends related to drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico.

This year’s report builds on past findings and seeks to provide new insights into Mexico’s recent security situation. The authors draw on the latest available data from multiple sources, with a primary emphasis on the first two years in office for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). In contrast to his predecessor, Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), President Peña Nieto appeared to deliberately downplay Mexico’s security problems, while at the same time moving aggressively to take out some of the country’s top drug traffickers, including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and top leaders of the Zetas, Gulf Cartel, Knights Templar Organization, and other organized crime groups.

As noted by Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) analyst Maureen Meyer in a recent USA Today article on the report, while there is substantial evidence of a decline in certain forms of crime and violence associated with organized crime, the security situation in Mexico remains problematic. Despite a slight decline, kidnapping and extortion remain at elevated levels. The past year saw a series of security crises for the Peña Nieto administration, including the rise of vigilante self-defense forces in Michoacán, the extrajudicial killing of 20 civilians by the Mexican armed forces in the state of Mexico, and the massacre of dozens of student protestors in the state of Guerrero.

Extortion. Source: SNSP.

Extortion. Source: SNSP.

Kidnappings. Source: SNSP.

Kidnappings. Source: SNSP.

Homicides-Monthly

Among study’s most important findings is the apparent decline between 9-15% in homicides in 2014. The authors also found that between one third and half of all homicides in Mexico in 2014 were attributed to organized crime groups, which may signal a slight reduction in the proportion of such homicides. Meanwhile, even as the states of Jalisco and Mexico have emerged as new trouble spots in Mexico’s battle against organized crime there were dramatic reductions of violence in key cities, like Acapulco, Chihuahua, and Ciudad Juárez.

Drug Violence in Mexico (2015 Special Report) was co-authored by Kimberly Heinle, Cory Molzahn, and David A. Shirk.

To read the full 46-page report (21.3 mb PDF), click here.

“Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2013” now available

DVM_14The Justice in Mexico Project (JMP) based at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego is pleased to announce the publication of “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2013.” Thanks to the generous funding of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this is the project’s fifth annual report providing a detailed analysis of the problem of crime and violence in Mexico, which has been a major preoccupation for both policymakers and ordinary people in Mexico, as well as a shared concern for the U.S. government and its citizens. Justice in Mexico’s annual reports have compiled the latest available data and analysis to evaluate problems of crime and violence related to drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico. These reports are especially intended to inform a U.S. and English language audience, since international news media coverage of Mexico tends to be fleeting and gravitates toward sporadic, sensationalistic incidents rather than the analysis of broader issues and longer-term trends.

This year’s study builds on past findings and seeks to provide new insights into Mexico’s recent security situation. The authors draw on the latest available data from multiple sources, with a primary emphasis on the first year in office for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). In contrast to his predecessor, Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), President Peña Nieto appeared to deliberately downplay Mexico’s security problems, as well as his administration’s efforts to address them during the last year. However, as the authors discuss, crime and violence associated with organized crime remains a very serious problem in Mexico. Despite some definitive and much needed improvements in certain parts of the country, the overall security situation in Mexico remains much worse today than a decade ago and major improvements are still urgently needed.

The report is broken down into four sections: (1) Why violence in Mexico matters; (2) “Drug violence”: definitions, data, and methodologies; (3) Findings: drug violence in Mexico; and (4) Analysis and developments in 2013. Some of the study’s most important results and conclusions include that the total number of homicides in Mexico appears to have declined by 15% in 2013, although rates of kidnapping and extortion have significantly increased. It also found that between one third and two thirds of all homicides in Mexico in 2013 were attributed to organized crime groups, and that less violence in Mexico’s northern states have increased the spotlight on Pacific coastal states. The report looks at the Peña Nieto administration’s achievements and preoccupations since taking office in 2012, including an analysis of the government’s continued kingpin strategy, use of the military in the security strategy, and the current challenge of the dynamic situation in the state of Michoacán involving official forces, organized crime groups, and self-defense groups (grupos de autodefensa).

“Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2013” was co-authored by Kimberly Heinle, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk.

To read the full report, click here.