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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

High-level criminal violence persisted, with activists at particular risk, while authorities relaunched economic dialogue with U.S., including on migration issues. In Morelos state’s Cuernavaca city (centre), unidentified assailants killed environmental activist Rodrigo Morales Vázquez 2 Sept and social activist Alejandro García Zagal 7 Sept. In Chihuahua state (north), armed attack 7 Sept left nine dead in Cuauhtémoc municipality; Juárez Cartel’s La Línea faction 22 Sept reportedly killed six people in clash with Sinaloa Cartel. In Michoacán state (west), Jalisco Cartel New Generation throughout month attempted to take control of Michoacán-Jalisco border town of Tepalcatepec, with explosives-equipped drones now being reportedly used and threats specifically targeting civilians. Notably, during 14-15 Sept cartel offensive, gang members killed five individuals manning checkpoint; several people, including two national guardsmen, also injured during fighting. In Coahuila state (north east), soldiers 16 Sept killed nine people who had according to official sources attacked police officers in Hidalgo municipality. In suspected extortion-related attack in Guanajuato state (centre), package containing explosive device 19 Sept killed two civilians in Salamanca city; development illustrates escalating use of explosives by criminal groups. During visit of FM Marcelo Ebrard to U.S. capital Washington DC, Mexico and U.S. 9 Sept agreed to relaunch bilateral High-Level Economic Dialogue, which among other measures seeks to foment economic development in southern Mexico and Central America to curb migration. Violence against migrants continued. Notably, armed groups 13 Sept abducted and same day released 38 people, including 22 Haitians and Cubans, in Matehuala city, San Luis Potosí state. Migrants also continued to seek to cross border to U.S. under perilous circumstances: reports 16 Sept revealed that over 10,000 mostly Haitian migrants awaited in dire conditions under bridge outside U.S. city of Del Rio, in hope of being processed by U.S. immigration authorities. In Chiapas state (south), around 1,000 mostly Haitian migrants 28 Sept gathered in Tapachula city to request asylum appointments. Govt 29 Sept sent 70 Haitian migrants back to Haiti in what it described as “voluntary return” flight.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

1 Jul 2021
The problem in Mexico is still being reduced by most as a turf war between cartels, while it is more of an internal violent conflict. The New Humanitarian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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

Latest Updates

Latin America’s Tough Year Ahead

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh, Richard Atwood and Ivan Briscoe, Crisis Group’s Latin America Director, talk about COVID-19’s devastation, polarisation and populism in the region, as well as the Venezuela crisis and violence in Mexico.

Time to End the Lethal Limbo of the U.S.-Mexican Drug Wars

The failure of the “war on drugs” – now a welter of spreading conflicts – is a U.S.-Mexican co-production. Washington should stop pushing Mexico City to throw ever more military force at organised crime. Instead, it should help its southern neighbour find solutions tailored to each locale.

Also available in Español

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.

More than Cartels: Counting Mexico’s Crime Rings

The “war on drugs” has not smashed Mexican organised crime but broken it into smaller fragments that fight each other for turf. The sheer difficulty of counting the criminal groups underscores the scale of the government’s challenge in protecting the public.

Also available in Español

Our People

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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