47,515 Drug-War Murders in Mexico in Just 5 Years

Edwin Mora | January 12, 2012 | 8:30pm EST
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Police stand next to the bodies of four men that were left next to a wall in the town of Medellin, near Veracruz, Mexico, Wednesday Jan. 11, 2012. All four men showed signs of torture. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

(CNSNews.com) -- The Mexican government reported that there were 12,903 drug-related homicides in the country during the first nine months of 2011, bringing Mexico's drug-war death toll to 47,515 since Mexican President Felipe Calderón began cracking down on organized crime in December 2006.

That means that between January and September 2011 (273 days), there was an average of 47 drug-related homicides per day in Mexico.

According to a Jan. 11 report (in Spanish) on drug-related homicides from Mexico’s Attorney General (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), most of the deaths between January and September 2011 were executions.

The 12,903 cartel-related homicides in 2011 (officially called homicides due to rivalry between delinquent organizations) included 10,200 executions; 1,652 deaths from encounters with law enforcement; 740 from direct aggression attacks; and 311 from violence between organized trafficking groups.

April was the bloodiest month in 2011 with 1,630 total drug-related deaths, followed by May (1,539) and July (1,519).

Mexican soldiers stand guard around a huge cache of arms seized in a 2008 raid on safe houses in northern Mexico – across the Rio Grande from Hidalgo County, Texas – belonging to the notorious Los Zetas drug cartel. (AP Photo)

The fatalities last year represent an 11 percent increase from those reported by the Mexican government during the same nine-month period in 2010. It is important to note that the recently reported cartel-related homicides only cover the first nine months of 2011. The Mexican government reported a record of 15,273 homicides related to organized crime for the entire year of 2010.

Nevertheless, the office of Mexico’s attorney general noted that “2011 is the first year in which the growth of the homicide rate is significantly lower when compared to previous years.”

The 11 percent increase in the death rate from 2010 to 2011 is much lower than the 70 percent increase from 2009 to 2010; the 63 percent increase from 2008 to 2009; and the 110 percent increase from 2007 to 2008, according to the Mexican government.

Ciudad Juarez, located directly across from El Paso, Texas, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, continues to be the deadliest city in Mexico. The Mexican border city where the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels continue to fight for drug trafficking corridors into the United States is considered to be among the most violent cities in the world.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, May 20, 2010. Behind him is Vice President Joe Biden, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Meanwhile, El Paso has been called one of the safest cities north of Mexico.

“The homicides remain clearly concentrated in some states of the country,” said Mexico’s attorney general. “70% of deaths, which by nature may have occurred in the context of rivalry between criminal organizations, occurred in eight states in the country.”

Those states include Chihuahua (2,276 homicides), Guerrero (1,533), Tamaulipas (1,153), Sinaloa (1,100), Veracruz (538), and Baja California (250).

Meanwhile, there were 1,206 deaths in Juarez alone, making it the most deadly city in 2011. Acapulco, a well-known tourist destination, came as the second deadliest city with 795 deaths, followed by the northern Mexican cities of Torreón (476); Chihuahua, the capital (402); Monterrey (399); Durango (390); Culiacán (365); and  y San Fernando (292).

The attorney general noted that “beyond the legitimate interest of knowing the phenomenon of crime statistics, the important thing is to ensure that each case is being investigated.” It has been widely reported that most homicides in Mexico are not investigated.

(AP Image)

According to the Attorney General, the 2011 death toll was gleaned from information that local authorities provided to Mexico’s federal government.

The attorney general indicated that the federal government has dispatched all its technical and legal capabilities to assist state governments as they conduct investigations aimed at identifying, locating, and capturing homicide suspects.

Mexican President Calderón began a militarized crack down on drug cartels upon taking office in December 2006.

Among the total 47,000-plus deaths under President Calderon that have been reported by Mexico’s attorney general’s office, 62 took place in December 2006; 2,826 in 2007; 9,614 in 2009; 15,273 in 2010; and 12,903 between January and September 2011.

In its recent report, Mexico’s attorney general noted that the 2011 death toll “must be validated” by state governments.  Mexico’s government released the figures following pressure to release the data from a number of non-governmental organizations and media outlets.

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