icon caret Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Line Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Crisiswatch Alerts and Trends Box - 1080/761 Copy Twitter Video Camera  copyview Youtube


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

Deteriorated Situation

Amid incidents of mass violence, record high homicide rate caused alarm, with 2019 on course to surpass 2018 as deadliest year on record. Officials announced Jan-July saw 20,135 murders (95.8 per day), higher than 19,335 for same period last year. Mass killings continued; in Veracruz (east), armed gunmen 28 Aug attacked and set fire to bar in town of Coatzacoalcos, killing 28; state governor Cuitláhuac García said massacre was retaliation after bar refused to let criminal group sell drugs. In Michoacán (centre), armed groups including Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG), Viagras and Knights Templar continued to compete over criminal markets including extortion of avocado industry; CJNG claimed responsibility for nineteen bodies found in Uruapan 8 Aug; in response, govt increased deployment of National Guard, controversial main instrument of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)’s security plan, in region. Violence against women remained a concern following allegations that four policemen 3 Aug raped teenage girl and a policeman sexually assaulted another girl days later, both in Mexico City; Mexico City’s mayor 14 Aug announced six police officers had been suspended as part of investigations; hundreds of protesters 13 and 16 Aug demonstrated against police inaction in tackling violence against women, damaging bus station and police station in latter demonstration. AMLO 19 Aug asked protesters to refrain from violence; said there would be no repression of demonstrations. Targeted killings of journalists continued including 2 Aug killing of Edgar Alberto Nava López in Zihuataneho, Guerrero (south) and Jorge Celestino Ruiz in Actopán, Veracruz (Gulf coast). Govt 4 Aug called for extradition of culprit of 3 Aug attack that left 22 dead, including eight Mexicans in El Paso, Texas; xenophobia against Latinos and Mexicans in particular motivated violent attack according to U.S. police reports.

Continue reading

Reports & Briefings

In The News

6 Jun 2019
Any blow to the Mexican economy will pour oil into the fire of conflict, accentuating reasons for people to flee, and undermining the deterrence effect of President Trump's anti-migratory policy. Twitter

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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

Latest Updates

Q&A / Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico’s New President Squares Up to High Hopes for Peace

On 1 December, Andrés Manuel López Obrador will assume Mexico’s presidency. He won pledging to end a drug war that has killed tens of thousands. But, as Crisis Group’s Mexico Senior Analyst Falko Ernst argues, he faces formidable challenges that will make it hard for him to uphold his promises.

Also available in Español

The Life and Death of a Mexican Hitman

Researching how Mexico can uproot the scourge of organised crime, our Senior Analyst Falko Ernst befriends a doomed hitman on the run from his past. Talking to the sicario in the Michoacán underworld, he learns much about the deadly challenges the new government faces.

Building Peace in Mexico: Dilemmas Facing the López Obrador Government

With hopes for change sky-high, Mexico’s president-elect confronts endemic violent crime and state corruption. To make good on his campaign promises, his team should pursue justice in killings by state personnel, reform the civilian police and give robust mandates to truth commissions with victim participation.

Also available in Español

Mexico’s Southern Border: Security, Violence and Migration in the Trump Era

Mexico stops hundreds of thousands of Central Americans fleeing northward to the U.S. Many are deported, and many more are stuck in the country’s south, vulnerable to crime and rising xenophobia. With U.S. and European help, Mexico should work harder to protect migrants and foster economic development.

Also available in Español

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

Our People

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico