According to the report, violent crime remains high in Mexico, but it appears to have reached a plateau.
“Things are as bad in Mexico as we’ve seen,” said David Shirk, professor at the University of San Diego. “But we’ve seen only single-digit percentage increase in the number of homicides, they are sort of cresting after rising sharply.”
Shirk and Octavio Rodriguez co-authored the study for the Justice for Mexico Program at USD.
Shirk pointed out that Mexico still has a long way to go considering the high number of kidnappings, extortion attempts and robberies.
The study also found more and more ordinary residents and Americans living in Mexico are being targeted.
“More ‘ex-pats’ are living there and many tourists visit Mexico so, in terms of what’s happening, U.S. citizens are more likely to be affected by this violence,” Shirk said.
Another area of concern, according to Shirk, is the level of violence against women.
“It’s a small share of Mexico’s overall violence, but because of the high number of murders and the horrific nature with these acts of violence that have happened over the last year or so, it’s definitely something we need to pay attention to,” he said.
According to figures released by the Mexican government, more than 35,000 people were murdered in Mexico last year. The city of Tijuana, directly south of San Diego, had more than 2,100. Most are attributed to drug cartels.
“The reality is organized crime groups in Mexico have diversified very significantly and they are breaking up into smaller more regional organizations that have moved into kidnapping, extortion — what you call larceny in the U.S. — and grand theft,” Shirk said.
Shirk doesn’t expect a drop in crime in Mexico in the near future due to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s “laid back approach.”
“I honestly believe that he thought by coming into office and just ignoring cartels somehow magically the problem would go away, but this has not been a very popular strategy or a very effective one. I don’t think they have any concrete ideas of what would constitute a strategy to get them from point A to point B to reduce problems,” Shirk said.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the study:
⦁ In 2019, the number of cases of intentional injury in Mexico increased for the fourth straight year in a row.
⦁ The number of officially reported kidnappings in Mexico had slowly and steadily risen over the years but leveled off in 2018 and 2019 when there was a roughly 15% increase with 1,329 (2018) and 1,323 (2019).
⦁ Over the years, there has been a steady rise in officially reported cases of extortion, from 5,072 cases in 2015 to nearly 8,500 cases in 2019.
⦁ In 2019, Mexico recorded its most violent year on record for women.
⦁ Cases classified as femicides grew from 411 in 2015 to 945 in 2019, representing an increase of approximately 130%.
⦁ Nearly half (45%) of all women in Mexico reported being victims of violence at the hands of their partner, and 18% specified that they were victims of physical abuse.
⦁ The killings of high-profile targets such as mayors, local political figures police, military officers, and journalists have also increased.
⦁ 25 current, former, or aspiring mayors were assassinated in 2019. Statistics drawn from Justice in Mexico’s Memoria database suggest that mayors are 13 times more likely to be murdered than the average individual.
⦁ Memoria dataset includes 13 journalists and media workers killed in 2019.