Mexico Government Sought to Withhold Drug War Death Statistics

Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2012

Six months before a presidential election that his party is widely expected to lose, President Felipe Calderon is on the defensive about the government’s blood-soaked drug war, with new revelations that it sought to conceal death toll statistics from the public.

By unofficial count, at least 50,000 people are believed to have been killed since Calderon deployed the military in the first days of his presidency in December 2006.

A year ago, the government released an official death toll up to that point—34,612—and pledged to periodically update a database and make it public. But official documents show that the offices of both the president and the attorney general late last year refused formal requests for updated statistics filed under the Mexican equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act.

After the reports first surfaced on the Mexican news website Animal Politico, a Calderon administration official told The Times that the government wanted to verify the numbers before releasing them. “It is not a lack of transparency on our part,” the official said.

Under pressure, the attorney general’s office Wednesday released a partial death toll for 2011. As of Oct. 1, it reported, 12,903 people had been killed in incidents tied to “rivalry among criminal organizations.”

Until now, without official data, the public had to rely on tallies kept by Mexican newspapers. The partial official numbers show a notably higher death toll than the newspapers had calculated and suggest that the overall count since Calderon came to office will easily surpass 50,000.


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  • NAVY

    American’s do not grasp how savage and widespread the drug cartel brutality is.
    The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers logs reports derived directly from Central american news sources through the M3 Report.
    According to a Tijuana-based magazine called Seminario Zeta, 19,000 were killed by criminal syndicates in 2011.

  • Sarah

    It’s not Calderon’s fault that Holder’s gun grab scheme furnished the drug cartels with thousands of guns used to kill Mexicans and American law enforcement. 

  • John Maddox

    I would comment on this one but my reply to Guest in the next entry is all that needs to be said. Death (violent death) in Mexico is a ‘spiritual’ industry.

  • These #s should be published and attributed to Eric Holder since he gave guns to the cartels in hopes of being able to pass gun control legislation in the bloody aftermath.