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Mexico’s judicial institutions are no match for widespread corruption and powerful transnational cartels that dominate parts of the country. Years of an over-militarised “war on drugs” and proliferating criminal rackets have destabilised the country and its neighbours, forcing thousands of refugees and migrants to risk their lives fleeing through Mexico from “Northern Triangle” neighbours like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Crisis Group focuses on addressing transnational crime, high-level corruption, trafficking and migration, with a special emphasis on the effect these have on children, women and other vulnerable groups. Our aim is to provide a more comprehensive and sub-regional understanding of the challenges to security posed by globalised criminal networks, local gangs and an elusive rule of law.

CrisisWatch Mexico

Unchanged Situation

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) assumed office 1 Dec amid concerns that National Peace and Security Plan announced in Nov will cement militarisation of public security. AMLO started implementing new federal organisational structure that will increase centralisation and presidential control of security through central coordinating body, one of his campaign promises; but under pressure from state governors, AMLO 5 Dec handed them powers to coordinate security provision in each state, despite his campaign promise that he would personally be in charge of deciding over and overseeing day-to-day security operations. Govt 15 Dec announced 2019 federal budget, with focus on social and economic developments over security operations. Criminal violence continued unabated; in Michoacán (centre), armed groups affiliated with Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) mid-Dec began offensive against opposing alliance of armed groups. In neighbouring Jalisco state, CJNG members 3 Dec ambushed state police in Huerta, killing six. CJNG 6 Dec denied carrying out late Nov grenade attack on U.S. consulate in Guadalajara, Jalisco state. Violence also increased in Guanajuato (centre) and Puebla (centre-south), where CJNG competes over oil siphoning markets; twenty people killed in Guanajuato 4 Dec. Central American migrants continued to travel through Mexico in efforts to reach U.S. and apply for asylum; group of masked men 8 Dec attacked 45 Guatemalan migrants in Coatzocoalcos, Veracruz , killing one, while two Honduran teenagers were reportedly murdered in Tijuana on U.S. border 15 Dec. U.S. and Mexico 19 Dec jointly announced $5.8bn in U.S. aid for Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and $4.8bn for Mexico to stem illegal migration. Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras 1 Dec signed agreement for major development plan for Central America and southern Mexico aimed at slowing migration.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

4 Jul 2018
[In Mexico] you have civilians affected by extortion and murder, ... you have criminal groups fighting one another, for drug trafficking routes, extortion rackets, theft of oil. You have state security forces fighting criminal groups, which will often lead to shootouts involved in the security operations as well. And you have extrajudicial killings by state forces involved in the fight against organised crime. TRT World

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean
8 Feb 2018
The repression of riots and the looting of stores [in Mexico] caused at least six deaths and thousands of arrests. The World Weekly

Froylán Enciso

Former Senior Analyst, Mexico
30 Nov 2017
The new [Mexican] criminal justice system seeks to reduce impunity and violations of the rights of the accused. [If the president were to abandon them, he would] repeat the mistakes of his predecessor. The World Weekly

Froylán Enciso

Former Senior Analyst, Mexico
23 Mar 2017
The United States should recognise that its own economic and security interests would be well served by cooperation, not confrontation, with Mexico to tackle organised crime and corruption. Miami Herald

Mark Schneider

Former Senior Adviser
1 Mar 2017
Supporting the Truth Commission of Veracruz would be a good way to foster civil society initiatives in order to prevent violence and help to build democratic institutions in Mexico. Fronteras

Froylán Enciso

Former Senior Analyst, Mexico
9 Nov 2016
México tendrá que encontrar una forma de relacionarse con el futuro gobierno de Trump, algo complicado y difícil para una economía que no ha logrado despegar realmente, ni cubrir todas las necesidades de su población Deutsche Welle

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean

Latest Updates

Addressing the Migration Bottleneck in Southern Mexico

Mexico is not doing “nothing” to curb northward migration, as U.S. President Donald Trump claims. In this Q&A, Crisis Group's Latin America & Caribbean Program Director Ivan Briscoe says Washington should help Mexico meet the challenge of migrant and refugee flows from Central America, which are now concentrated in its troubled southern states.

Also available in Español

Mexico’s Worsening War without a Name

The “war on drugs” has morphed into a new rash of killings in Mexico. The deadly violence of increasingly well-organised, business-minded criminal groups risks being aggravated by government inaction, corruption and bombastic U.S. rhetoric – exactly what caused the problem in the first place.

Also available in Español

Veracruz: Fixing Mexico’s State of Terror

Mexico’s third-most populous state has suffered an unprecedented wave of violence. Veracruz’s new governor must stand by pledges to end state-criminal collusion and impunity. Strong international support will be needed to help find the bodies of the disappeared and transform the state police and legislature.

Also available in Español

Our People

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico