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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

Drug cartel violence continued, with journalists at particular risk; U.S. policy toward migrants and refugees came under scrutiny. Heavy fighting throughout month persisted in Zacatecas state (centre north), allegedly between Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) and Sinaloa Cartel-affiliated groups, leaving at least 28 dead 3-13 Aug. In video released 8 Aug, men claiming to speak on behalf of CJNG leader threatened to kill prominent TV journalist Azucena Uresti over what they deemed to be unfair coverage of battle between cartel and vigilante groups in Michoacán state (centre). Unidentified gunman 19 Aug shot dead radio journalist Jacinto Romero Flores in Ixtaczoquitlán town, Veracruz state (east). Meanwhile, federal govt 4 Aug filed lawsuit in U.S. court against 11 U.S. gunmakers and arm dealers for alleged negligent practices encouraging illegal arms trafficking to Mexico. In blow to President López Obrador, referendum on trying former presidents 1 Aug fell short of 40% turnout required to make it binding. Head of Mexico Supreme Court 6 Aug said he would conclude his term as planned in late 2022 despite Congress’s controversial decision in April to extend it by nearly two years. In possible strategic move ahead of 2024 presidential election, López Obrador 26 Aug appointed governor of his home state of Tabasco, Adán Augusto López Hernández, as new interior minister. UN refugee agency 11 Aug expressed concern after U.S. late July began deporting Central American undocumented migrants and asylum seekers to southern Mexico under COVID-19-related public health order. U.S. Supreme Court 24 Aug required U.S. President Biden’s administration to reinstate former U.S. President Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced tens of thousands of Central American asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. courts to hear their immigration cases; U.S. govt same day said it would challenge ruling. Meanwhile, caravan of about 500 migrants and asylum seekers from Central America and Caribbean 28 Aug left southern city of Tapachula for Mexico City to protest slow asylum process as govt deployed hundreds of security forces, videos on social media showed National Guard troops and govt’s migration agency officers allegedly beating and detaining migrants.
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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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