Murder in Mexico

President Peña disputed the Mexican murder figures published in Tijuana’s Zeta.
  • President Peña disputed the Mexican murder figures published in Tijuana’s Zeta.

Drug-related homicides have been up sharply in Tijuana, but there’s a political shoot-out over just how much, according to a new report by the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico project. Though drug-gang conflict was said by the government to be generally down in Mexico during 2013, “One exception in the north is Baja California, which saw a 31% increase in homicides, particularly as the city of Tijuana saw an increase in violence that ran counter to the significant declines elsewhere in the country.”

Bad as that is, the situation may be even worse, both in Tijuana and across Mexico, than official body counts admit to. “The Tijuana-based publication Zeta identified a total of 23,640 homicides that they believe were related to organized crime, greatly exceeding other estimates and directly contradicting Mexican government claims that such killings have decreased in the last year,” notes the USD report. “Homicides tallied by Zeta took place from December 2012 through January 2014, for a monthly average of 1688 homicides.

Zeta and other critics claim that the government’s methodology for tallying homicides is unreliable, since the government counts investigations initiated for homicides (rather than actual victims of homicide).” The newspaper’s numbers drew the ire of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. “When asked about Zeta’s claims by French newspaper Le Monde, Peña Nieto said that he was not familiar with their figures but questioned their reliability, insisting that government figures show a 16% decrease in international homicide and a 30% decrease in [organized crime group] homicides in 2013.”

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