Associated Press, July 23, 2018
Homicides in Mexico rose by 16% in the first half of 2018, as the country again broke its own records for violence.
The interior department said over the weekend there were 15,973 homicides in the first six months of the year, compared with 13,751 killings in the same period in 2017.
The number is the highest since comparable records began being kept in 1997, including the peak year of Mexico’s drug war in 2011.
Some areas, like the northern border state of Baja California, showed big jumps in murder rates, while others saw sharp drops.
Home to the border city of Tijuana, Baja California saw 1,463 homicides in the first half of the year, a 44% increase over the same period of 2017.
Authorities have attributed the spate of killings to battles between the Jalisco and Sinaloa drug cartels for control of trafficking routes in Baja California. The state is now Mexico’s second most violent, with a homicide rate for the first six months of the year equivalent to 71 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
By comparison, Honduras and El Salvador, two of the deadliest countries in the world, have homicide rates of about 60 per 100,000.
Hope noted that in about half of Mexico’s 32 states and the capital, murder rates did not rise much or at all. “Now the growth is becoming concentrated” in some areas.
Farmers in Guerrero say prices for opium paste have dropped to unprofitable levels because drug cartels are substituting it for cheaper, easier to obtain synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, home to resorts like Cancún, Tulum and Cozumel, saw homicides rise by 132%, to the equivalent of about 35 killings per 100,000.