Mexico’s state institutions have been bedevilled for decades by widespread corruption and powerful transnational criminal organisations. Crime and the “war on drugs” have destabilised the country and fuelled violence; meanwhile, thousands of refugees and migrants flee through Mexico from similar volatility in Central America. Crisis Group focuses on addressing criminal violence, institutional corruption, trafficking and migration. Our aim is to help solve challenges to security posed by global criminal networks, local armed groups and the elusiveness of state rule.

CrisisWatch Mexico

Unchanged Situation

Criminal violence continued at high levels amid rising discontent over govt handling of disappearances; tensions with U.S. simmered over fentanyl crisis.

Growing number of disappearances raised concerns. Though National Institute of Statistics and Geography report late July said 2022 marked lowest homicide rate in Mexico since 2017, rising number of disappearances underscored persistently high levels of insecurity. Notably, five youths 11 Aug disappeared from Lagos de Moreno city in Jalisco state (centre). Four days later, video surfaced in media allegedly showing victims being forced to kill one another; video reportedly attributed to MZ faction of Sinaloa Cartel, which is in competition with Jalisco Cartel New Generation for control of drug trafficking and fuel theft in area. Case triggered alarm, with opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez 16 Aug announcing suspension of campaign activities for 24 hours. Head of National Search Commission 23 Aug resigned amid growing frustration with govt’s handling of disappearances, further underscored by late July decision of independent investigators to end probe into 2014 disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa college due to lack of collaboration from authorities. Some 200 protesters 30 Aug took to streets in Mexico City to mark International Day of the Disappeared, chanting “Where are our children” and calling for more concerted govt efforts to locate missing persons.

Attacks on state forces and civilians continued. Coahuila’s Prosecutor’s Office 1 Aug announced detention of “criminal leader” who could be responsible for series of late July attacks on police checkpoints in Coahuila state (north). Army 22 Aug said cartels are increasingly deploying roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), with 42 soldiers, police and suspects wounded by IEDs in 2023, up from 16 in 2022. Cartels in Michoacán state (centre) late Aug burnt trucks and shops and blocked roads, prompting govt 28 Aug to send 1,200 troops to quell uptick in violence.

Frictions with U.S. over fentanyl crisis simmered. Tensions between Mexico and U.S. over responsibility for fentanyl drug crisis continued to rise; U.S. officials blame Jalisco Cartel New Generation and Sinaloa Cartel for production and trafficking of fentanyl, while Mexican govt claim country is only transit route.

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Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
Falko Ernst

Angélica Ospina-Escobar

Gender Fellow, Mexico
Angélica Ospina-Escobar

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