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Mexico

A new president seeks to revitalise Mexico’s state institutions, for decades bedevilled by widespread corruption and powerful transnational criminal organisations. Crime and the twelve-year “war on drugs” have destabilised the country; 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, emphasising the effect these problems have on children, women and other vulnerable groups. Our aim is to help solve challenges to security posed by globalised criminal networks, local armed groups and the elusiveness of state rule.

CrisisWatch Mexico

Unchanged Situation

Cartel violence continued unabated while authorities stripped foreign law enforcement agents of diplomatic immunity. Along border between Michoacán and Jalisco central states, clashes between Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) and alliance of Michoacán-based criminal groups in Nov and early Dec killed at least 26 and displaced over 1,000. Suspected CJNG gunmen 18 Dec shot and killed ex-governor of Jalisco state Aristóteles Sandoval in Puerto Vallarta town. Violence also increased in Zacatecas central state: clashes between CJNG and Sinaloa Cartel over control of drug trafficking routes left at least 28 dead 14-18 Dec; unidentified gunmen 9 Dec killed director of media outlet Prensa Libre MX, Jaime Castaño Zacarías, outside Jerez city. Also in centre, suspected Santa Rosa de Lima cartel 18 Dec killed three suspected CJNG members in Celaya city, Guanajuato state. After President López Obrador 6 Dec called for stripping U.S. officials of diplomatic immunity on Mexican soil, Chamber of Deputies 15 Dec approved new national security law requiring all foreign law enforcement agents to relinquish diplomatic immunity; move widely seen as targeting U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials following diplomatic spat over Oct detention in U.S. of former Defence Minister General Salvador Cienfuegos on charges of drug trafficking and involvement in organised crime. Ahead of legislative elections set for July 2021, opposition parties Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), National Action Party (PAN) and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) 5 Dec announced electoral coalition in bid to unseat ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). 

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

8 Dec 2020
Cartels’ brand names fade away eventually. [But] all of those [other] networks stay in place. The Guardian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
25 Aug 2020
The impotence of Mexican government security forces has been made particularly evident in the events of the last few months. The New Humanitarian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
2 Aug 2020
[The arrest of José Antonio Yépez] is basically a short-lived P.R. victory, but it doesn’t provide a solution. The big worry is that there is no backing in terms of a more cohesive security strategy. The New York Times

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
13 Jul 2020
While much of the narrative around violence in Mexico focuses on drug trafficking and cartels, the "on-the-ground realities are far more complex. Al Jazeera

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
20 Apr 2020
But in Mexico, armed clashes between rival crime factions continued throughout March and early April, and 2,585 homicides were registered last month alone. The Guardian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
14 Apr 2020
These [armed] groups [in Mexico] are trying to be seen as catering materially and providing a notion of security in places where they are also directly preying on the population [...]. Washington Post

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico

Latest Updates

How Many Criminal Groups Are There in Mexico?

The “war on drugs” has not smashed Mexican organised crime but broken it into smaller fragments that fight each other for turf. This has come at the cost of thousands of lives, with last year being the deadliest on record. The sheer difficulty of counting the criminal groups underscores the scale of the government’s challenge in protecting the public.

Una guerra cotidiana: Guerrero y los retos a la paz en México (evento online, 10 de junio de 2020)

Panel en línea con la participación de los expertos de Crisis Group Falko Ernst y Jane Esberg, quienes presentan sus últimos informes sobre la violencia en México, comentarios a cargo del destacado investigador y columnista Sergio Aguayo y moderado por la subdirectora del Programa de América Latina y el Caribe, Renata Segura.

Deportation and Disease: Central America’s COVID-19 Dilemmas

As the coronavirus spreads, and the U.S. presidential election looms, the Trump administration and Mexican government continue to deport migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some deportees are carrying the virus. Central American states should press their northern neighbours for more stringent health measures.

Also available in Español

Picking Up the Pieces after Mexico’s Criminal Siege

Shocking pictures from Culiacán show a criminal organisation forcing the Mexican state into submission. In this Q&A, Crisis Group Senior Analyst Falko Ernst explains why the mayhem should compel the government to revisit its security paradigm.

Also available in Español

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Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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