Deadly violence in Mexico is at record levels, and new crime data adds to the ugly picture

Monterrey Mexico crime scene homicide soldiers

  • Violence in Mexico has reached record levels, eclipsing levels reached during the depths of inter-cartel warfare in 2011.
  • At the state level, violence has grown precipitously in some areas, driven in part by fragmentation of criminal groups.
  • Mexico’s governing party has pushed for deeper military involvement in crime-fighting.

With a month left in the year, 2017 has already seen record levels of deadly violence throughout Mexico.

The 2,595 homicide victims recorded across the country in November are second only to the 2,773 registered in October. All together, the numbers vault Mexico to 26,573 homicide victims through the first 11 months of the year — more than in any full year since the government began releasing that statistic in 2014.

The January-November total for homicide victims is a 27% increase over the same period last year, a 55% increase over that period in 2015, and a 67% increase over the first 11 months of 2014. (Mexico’s government has also been accused of manipulating crime data to lower the incidence of high-impact crimes like homicide.)

Homicide victims in Mexico 2015 to 2017

Mexican officials opened 2,212 homicide cases — which can contain more than one victim — in November. That’s an average of 73.7 cases each day, and 68% of those involved a firearm.

During the first 11 months of 2017, 23,101 homicide cases were opened — a 23% increase over the same period in 2016.

The total homicide cases for the first 11 months of this year already exceed the number recorded during all of 2011, which was most violent year on record since the government began releasing crime data in 1997.

The homicide rate over the first 11 months of this year, based on the number of cases opened, was 18.7 per 100,000 people, according to Animal Politico. That exceeds the previous high of 17.8 cases per 100,000, registered in 2011.

2017 is also the third consecutive year of increases in the homicide rate over the first 11 months of the year — a cumulative increase of 57%.

At the state level, the increased violence has also been widespread, with some areas seeing a greater intensification than others.

Twenty-eight of Mexico’s 32 states have seen an increase in homicides this year in comparison to last year, according to Animal Politico. (One of the four that haven’t is Michoacan, a traditional hotspot for drug-related crime.)

Mexico Ciudad Juarez homicide victim crime scene

Among the states that have seen increases, Baja California Sur, home to the Los Cabos tourist hub, saw the biggest year-to-year increase in homicide victims, rising 223%. Quintana Roo — the state on the opposite site of the country that is home to Cancun and Playa del Carmen — had a 108% increase in homicide victims.

Baja California, the border state where Tijuana is located, saw a 90% increase. Chihuahua, a border state prized by drug traffickers, had a 35% increase. As Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope noted on Twitter, Baja California had a smiliar number of homicide victims as Mexico state, despite having one-fifth the population.

Homicides in Mexico states 2015 to 2017

Colima, a Pacific coast state that has been the site of fighting between the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels, saw the number of homicide victims rise 35% between 2016 and 2017.

But Colima’s 2017 homicide numbers were 368% higher than those recorded in 2015, and the state now has Mexico’s highest homicide rate: 83 per 100,000 people.

The number of homicide victims rose 38% in Sinaloa, the site of a turf war between factions of the Sinaloa cartel earlier this year.

Nayarit, which borders Sinaloa to the south, saw a dizzying 610% increase, rising from 41 during the first 11 months of 2016 to 291 over that period this year.

Other data included in the government’s report, as well as new information included for the first time, sheds more light on the scope and intensify of criminal activity in Mexico this year.

While the total number of crimes reported in the country fell between October and November, the first 11 months of this year have already seen 13% more crimes than were reported all last year.

The total number of violent robberies rose 37.5%, while violent car robberies — car-jackings — have risen 41% during the first 11 months of the year. Of the 23,101 homicide cases opened in January through November this year, 66% of them involved a firearm — up from 61% during the same period last year.

The total number of assaults rose a little more than 12% during the first 11 months of the year, and within that category, assaults with a firearm rose just over 37%, from 5,575 in January through November 2016 to 7,651 during that same period this year.

Two other high-impact crimes, extortion and kidnapping, rose 10% and 3%, respectively, though those crimes often go unreported.

Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua Mexico crime scene homicide murder police

Crime data for November also comes with new categories meant to link the government’s numbers to those reported by the national statistical agency and close gaps between the two data sets, according to Animal Politico.

The new data includes 31 new crimes, such as femicide, domestic violence, human trafficking, street-level drug sales, and environmental crimes. It will also contain information on the age and sex of victims.

Among that newly included data, which covers the period from January 2015 to November this year, domestic violence and street-level drug sales were the two most committed crimes. There were 436,145 cases of the former over that period and 113,639 of the latter.

Over that period, there were also 1,525 reported cases of femicide, or homicides that specifically target women.

SEE ALSO: There’s a ‘double-edged sword’ hanging over Mexico’s decade-long war on drug cartels

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