In 2019, nine of the 32 states improved their levels of peace, while 23 states suffered deterioration. Yucatán was the most peaceful state, followed by Tlaxcala, Chiapas, Campeche, and Nayarit. However, three of these five states – Yucatán, Tlaxcala, and Campeche – showed a deterioration in their MPI scores in 2019, indicating that the escalation of violence has reached even the most peaceful areas of the country.
Baja California continued to be the least peaceful state in 2019, followed by Colima, Quintana Roo, Chihuahua, and Guanajuato. Four of these entities – Baja California, Colima, Chihuahua, and Guanajuato – had homicide rates considered extreme, higher than 49 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2019, the overall ratings of the five least peaceful states showed deterioration.
Between 2015 and 2019, Sinaloa registered the country’s greatest improvement in levels of peace. The crime rate of organized crime was reduced to less than half. Sinaloa, after having the second-highest homicide rate in 2015, reported an 8.3% improvement in the last five years. In 2019, its murder rate was 30 per 100,000 residents.
Dynamics of violence
There are four types of violence that significantly affect the levels of peace in Mexico , and each requires a different set of public policy responses to be addressed. Cartel conflicts and drug-related crime are driven by dynamics other than political violence, opportunistic violence, and interpersonal violence. The states of the country experience at the same time some of these dynamics or a combination of them.
During the last 13 years, criminal organizations have undergone a process of fragmentation from the beginning of the war on drugs, and the capture or assassination of leaders of the main cartels. As a result, multiple struggles and conflicts have been unleashed within these groups, leading to high levels of homicides related to organized crime. Before 2006, data on armed conflicts in Mexico included only three criminal organizations: the Sinaloa cartel, the Tijuana cartel, and the Gulf cartel. However, from 2006 to 2018 the number of armed conflicts between criminal organizations increased from three to 18.
Given the emergence of smaller criminal groups, the fight for territories and access to drug trafficking routes has become more acute. In the past five years, the rate of crime committed with firearms more than doubled, from 13.6 per 100,000 people in 2015 to 29.6 in 2019.
Today, Mexico faces an unprecedented level of interpersonal violence. On its own, the murder rate from the war on drugs is high by international standards. But the total homicide rate has increased significantly year after year, with an average of nine people killed per 100,000 inhabitants each year. Leaving aside drug executions, the homicide rate in Mexico would have been 9.8 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019, 65% lower than the current total, but still high. The gap makes it clear that organized crime is just one of the challenges the country faces.
The sex crime rate has grown 60% since 2015. In the last five years, this indicator worsened in 28 states and improved only in four. In addition, the national rate of family violence has risen 56% since 2015. The rate of femicides in Mexico has more than doubled between 2015 and 2019. Since January 2015, the monthly rate of femicides grew 164%.
Across the country, the increase in extortion is the result of the fragmentation and diversification of criminal organizations , whose factions resort to quick and easy ways to obtain income. Extortion, a form of crime for profit, appears to follow the same pattern as robbery. Kidnapping and human trafficking also closely reflect the pattern of extortion and robbery, thereby sustaining the perception that these strands of violence in Mexico are driven by economic incentives.
In early 2019, as the federal government took action against the theft of hydrocarbons from pipelines, criminal organizations shifted their strategies towards localized crimes, such as extortion and robbery.
Political violence persisted after the 2018 elections . A recent study revealed that there were at least 180 acts of political violence during the first quarter of 2019: an increase of 46% compared to the same period of the previous year. Twenty-four of those attacks were killings of politicians, including five elected officials. The current president’s party, Morena, was the biggest target, with 47% of the attacks.