Violence in Mexico Hits 20-Year High

Published: 22 June 2017

By Vanja Lakic

Mexico witnessed a record-breaking number of homicides and murder investigations in May, according to government data published Wednesday.

Last month, 2,186 murders were committed surpassing 2011’s record, statistics that go back two decades show.

The number of murder investigations also peaked in May dating back to 1997. Several probes likely include multiple homicides.

“Pretty grim. Not shocking, because we’ve seen this for months,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said.

Mexico recorded 9,916 murders since the beginning of 2017, roughly a 30% increase over the same period last year, underscoring the country’s struggle to deal with escalating organized crime groups.

The deadliest state was Guerrero, in the south, a hotbed for Mexico's war on drugs where 216 people were killed.

In the western state of Sinaloa 154 people were killed - the highest number in six years -due to violence driven by rival groups vying to fill the void left by the arrest and extradition of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Mexico launched a militarized offensive to fight drug trafficking in 2006. Since then, over 200,000 people have been presumed dead or missing as rival cartels wage war on each other and the army.

The country’s escalating violence has hit journalists especially hard claiming most recently the life of well-respected drug trafficking reporter, Javier Valdez Cardenas.

The ensuing conflict has further damaged President Enrique Pena Nieto’s popularity.

“The increase in violence is a clear sign that the strategy Enrique Pena Nieto sold us has failed,” Viridiana Rios, an analyst at the Wilson Centre, a Washington think-tank, told The Guardian.

“He told us it’s a problem of perception and there was too much discussion in Mexico about violence. A year before there are elections, we are [now] seeing the highest levels of violence.”

Mexico's murder rate was 16.35 per 100,000 people in 2015. In comparison, Germany's murder rate in 2014 stood at 0.9 per 100,000 people.