Mexico undoubtedly possesses a remarkable geographic diversity. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and shares its southern boundary with Guatemala. With an approximate population of 132,809,000, the country often faces unwarranted criticism.
However, those who have had the privilege of experiencing Mexico’s wonders would wholeheartedly attest that it transcends its negative portrayals. Mexico is renowned for its breathtaking vacation destinations such as Cancun and Playa Grande, as well as its abundance of historical treasures like the Tulon Ruins and the Aztec’s Templo Mayor, showcasing its numerous positive attributes.
Nevertheless, Mexico, like any other nation, confronts its own set of challenges. The looming presence of drug cartels and organized criminal activities, including human trafficking, casts a shadow of concern over the country. As such, a number of Mexican cities are often ranked among the most dangerous cities in the world.
The disparity between the least safe and most safe states within Mexico is continuously widening. According to the Mexico Peace Index (MPI), the five states witnessing the most significant deterioration in overall peace also experienced deterioration in firearms crime, organized crime, and violent crime. These were primarily driven by the activities of organized criminal groups. Interestingly, these same five states were also the ones that saw the greatest declines in organized crime scores. On average, their rates of organized crime increased by 44.6%, surpassing the national increase of 8.9%. The state of Colima, for instance, had the lowest overall peace score ever recorded in the country last year. It also witnessed the largest deterioration in both overall peacefulness and organized crime scores, factors that ultimately led to Colima recording the highest homicide rate of any state since the inception of the MPI. On the other hand, all five states saw substantial increases in rates of extortion and retail drug crimes, with average rates rising by 70.4% and 31.9%, respectively.
These states that experienced the most significant deterioration in 2022 are spread across different regions of Mexico, representing the western, northern, southern, eastern, and central parts of the country. Despite the diverse nature of these regions and varying levels of violence, all five states encountered similar challenges.
Over the last eight years, firearms have emerged as the leading factor contributing to homicides among both men and women in Mexico. From 2015 to 2022, the percentage of male homicides committed with firearms increased from 60.9% to 71.9%. Similarly, the proportion of female homicides, including femicides, involving firearms rose from 37.8% to 59.7% during the same period. In 2022, the economic repercussions of such violence in Mexico were estimated to reach 4.6 trillion pesos ($230 billion), accounting for 18.3% of the country’s GDP. Per capita, this translated to 35,705 pesos, which was more than double the average monthly salary of a Mexican worker.
Notably however, the economic impact of violence experienced a positive trend for the third consecutive year, declining by 5.5% or 271 billion pesos compared to the previous year. This improvement was primarily driven by a significant reduction in homicides, which resulted in a decrease of 11% or 245 billion pesos in its overall impact nationwide. Overall, the country’s homicide rate decreased by 7.9% in 2022, marking the largest drop in eight years. With that said, the country still has a long way to go. In order to address crime and violence more efficiently, Mexico’s judicial system requires significant investment and attention. Currently, the country has an average of only 4.4 judges and magistrates per 100,000 individuals, which is a quarter of the global average. This scarcity has led to extensive backlogs of unresolved cases and a substantial population being incarcerated without receiving proper sentencing.
To compile our ranking of the 15 most dangerous cities in Mexico, we made use of the data regarding violence and homicide rates by the Mexico Peace Index 2022. The MPI report is an annual publication by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent think tank dedicated to establishing frameworks and offering metrics for assessing global peace. The following cities are ranked in ascending order according to the homicide rates per 100,000 people in 2022.
Homicide Rates: 74.4
Salamanca is a city located in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Home to more than 160,00 people, the city’s status as an important agricultural and commercial center, and its central location in the fertile Bajío region led to it being called the “Granary of Mexico.” Despite its rich agricultural history, Salamanca ranks among the most dangerous cities in Mexico, with a homicide rate of 74.4 per 100,000 people.
Homicide Rates: 87.0
Manzanillo is a Pacific Ocean port city and resort in the Mexican state of Colima. The site of two bays, the Bahía de Manzanillo and Bahía de Santiago, Manzanillo is also known as the biggest and busiest port in the country as well as the ‘Sailfish Capital of the World,’ hosting international fishing competitions since 1957. Despite being a notable tourist destination, Manzanillo has its fair share of crime statistics. So much so, that U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to the city’s non-tourist areas.
Homicide Rates: 88.3
Uruapan, in full Uruapan del Progreso, is the second largest city in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Established in 1533, it derives its name from a Tarascan Indian term signifying “where the flowers abound.” This vibrant city is renowned for its enchanting Spanish colonial ambiance, as well as its vivid lacquerware and indigenous handicrafts. However, the city is also facing challenges from homicides and gang-related crimes. In August of 2022, several Narco-graves (graves hiding the victims of cartel killings) were uncovered which held 12 victims.
12. San Luis Río Colorado
Homicide Rates: 90.1
San Luis Río Colorado is a city located in the northwestern part of Mexico, in the state of Sonora. Situated on the border with the United States, it is known for its strategic location as a border crossing point between Mexico and the state of Arizona. Being a border city, San Luis Río Colorado experiences cross-border traffic and has the infrastructure, including border crossings and customs facilities, to facilitate trade and travel between Mexico and the United States. With the third-highest homicide rate in the state of Sonora, the border city registered 162 homicides by the end of the past year.
Homicide Rates: 90.6
Iguala, officially recognized as Iguala de la Independencia, is a historic city situated in the southwestern region of Mexico. It is located approximately 102 km away from the state capital of Chilpancingo within the state of Guerrero. In one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, there were 117 registered homicide cases in Iguala this past year.
Homicide Rates: 106.9
Celaya is a vibrant city located in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Situated in the central part of the country, Celaya is known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and thriving economy. Classed as one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, shootouts between the police and gang members are commonplace in Celaya. With the omnipresent activity of the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel, the amount of bloodshed and violence in this city is second to none. With a population of approximately 639,052, the city experiences a staggering homicide rate of 106.9 per 100,000.
Homicide Rates: 109.5
Tijuana, a border city just south of California, is renowned for being home to the ‘most crossed border in the world,’ providing visitors with a complete border-town experience. The city’s dynamic atmosphere encompasses a diverse blend of cultures, energetic nightlife, a wide array of restaurants, and an abundance of bars to choose from. Ranking high among the list of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, Tijuana had by far the highest number of homicides overall, with more than 1,800 registered cases. Additionally, the border city has had the highest number of total homicides since 2017, when it overtook Acapulco, Guerrero, which held the record in 2015 and 2016.
Source: Insider Monkey