The government released for the first time comprehensive data (Mexico Segob homicide database) on killings related to organized crime. Ministry of Government spokesman Alejandro Poiré said the disclosure was “an exercise of transparency without precedent in Mexico, and with few precedents in the world.” The database includes killings month by month from December 2006 (when Felipe Calderón took office) through December 2010 for more than 1,100 municipalities across the country.
Some highlights from the government data:
- Overall killings spiked to more than 15,000 in 2010, an increase of 59% from 2009. The government’s figures are significantly higher than those compiled (and published weekly) by the major newspapers. Reforma for example, recorded 11,583
- On a quarterly basis, the peak was 2Q and 3Q 2010. The rate of killings was down 10% in 4Q10, though the government was unwilling to say this was the beginning of a trend.
- Since December 2006, 70% of the killings have been concentrated in just 85 municipalities, concentrated along the U.S. border and the Pacific coast.
Poiré’s presentation is here: SEGOB Presentation on Organized Crime Killings, Jan 11
In an interview, Carlos Morales Gil, the head of production and exploration for Pemex, acknowledged that the state oil company has had to shut in gas production of 150,000 cubic feet/day in the Burgos basin south of the Texas border because of the inability to ensure the security of some of the gas wells. (At US$3.50 per cu.ft., the lost production is the equivalent of US$525,000 per day.) Morales said there had been no news of the six Pemex employees who were kidnapped on May 23d. “We’ve increased security, together with the Ministry of Defense, in the installations in the northeastern zone of the country, which has allowed us to partially recover the production that was reduced. However, there are zones where it is not safe to go, because of the crime threats to our people,” he said. (Reforma 11/10)
Following are the tallies in the large-scale killings or massacres that have occurred this year, pieced together from a variety of sources.
Naval marines surrounded and killed the leader of the Gulf Cartel, Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, aka Tony Tormenta and four of his bodyguards in a pitched battle in the border city of Matamoros. Columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio called it the government’s “most paradigmatic success in the 47 month long war against drugs.” The operation, which left three Marines dead and another four wounded, cements the position of the Marines as the elite agency for strikes against drug kingpins. Two reporters were also killed in the crossfire. The Navy said the operation to trap Cárdenas began six months ago with intelligence derived from the capture of some of the Gulf Cartel’s paramilitary wing, the Scorpions. The U.S. DEA also reportedly provided intelligence that assisted in locating Cárdenas. The Navy said that Cardenas had evaded capture on two separate occasions in the last month prior to this final operation. The Marines deployed 660 troops, 3 helicopters, and 17 vehicles in the operation, while the Army provided an outer ring of security to prevent cartel reinforcements from reaching their leader. (Eje Central 11/8)
NPR’s John Burnett has an extensive report on the military operation, the struggle between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, and the impact on Matamoros.
Death toll by month. Source: Reforma
According to the tally kept by Reforma, the death toll from the drug war passed the 10,000 mark this week, reaching 10,035 killed since the start of the year. This surpasses 2009’s full year record by more than 50%, with almost two months still to go. (On the sporadic occasions when the government has released it’s own statistics they have been significantly higher than the tallies kept by the news organizations.) Of Reforma’s total, 52 were military and 637 were police officers. Chihuahua continues to be the bloodiest state, with 2,797 killed. (Reforma 11/4)
Death toll by state. Source: Reforma
Francisco Javier Gómez Meza, the warden of the federal maximum security prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco was arrested by Mexican Interpol agents at the Mexico City airport and held on drug trafficking charges. Specifically, he is charged with providing protection to the Beltrán Leyva cartel. Prior to his recent appointment as head of the prison, Gómez Meza was a senior official in the federal police and AFI, and is a close colleague of Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna. In 2006, he was given an award by the U.S. DEA for his work against drug trafficking. The Puente Grande prison is best known for the 2001 escape of El Chapo Guzmán, Mexico’s most wanted narcotrafficker. Today, a judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence to continue to hold him. (Universal 10/29, 11/3, Reforma 11/3)
Seven youths between the ages of 19 and 28 were gunned down in central Mexico City, near the Tepito black market district. Two vehicles reportedly opened fire on a group of youths on the street late at night. This is the fourth massacre in Mexico in less than a week. As in the other cases, the authorities are attributing the killings to drug gangs, but have provided no substantive information. (Universal 10/28)
In the third large scale massacre in less than a week, 15 persons were killed and 2 wounded in a car wash in Tepic, Nayarit today. At 11 am, the attackers drove up in two vehicles and started firing. The vehicles were found abandoned a short distance away. The Governor of the State, Ney González, announced that he fired the head of the state police and seven other senior police officials in the wake of the killings. (Reforma 10/27, Excelsior 10/28)
Three days after the inauguration of a new police station in the town of Los Ramones, 60-km outside Monterrey on the Matamoros highway, gunmen pulverized the building with high caliber weapons and grenades (3 exploded of 6 launched) during a midnight attack. Five officers were in the building at the time of the attack; none were injured. Today, all 14 policemen in the town of 6,000 resigned. The state highway police and the Army have assumed responsibility for law enforcement. (Universal 10/26, Reforma 10/26)
The fifth annual study of crime victims carried out by the independent CIDE research institute shows that crime rates, as measured by victim surveys, have surged in Mexico City and the State of Mexico. 40% of those surveyed said a member of their household was a victim of a crime in 2009, as compared to an average of about 25% in each of 2005-07—an increase of 60%. The rate of violent crime has also jumped, with 22% saying a member of the household was the victim of a violent crime. Robberies of persons are now the most common crime, surpassing theft of auto parts. The CIDE researchers speculate, “The increase in violent crimes could be indicative of criminals acting under the influence of drugs, given the recent transformation of these jurisdictions into drug transit corridors. … Another possible explanation is that the high rate of impunity makes it possible for violence to become more generalized.” (CIDE)