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Mexico

Mexico’s state institutions have been bedevilled for decades by widespread corruption and powerful transnational criminal organisations. Crime and the “war on drugs” have destabilised the country and fuelled violence; 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. Our aim is to help solve challenges to security posed by global criminal networks, local armed groups and the elusiveness of state rule.

CrisisWatch Mexico

Unchanged Situation

High levels of criminal violence persisted, recall referendum confirmed President López Obrador as head of state, and authorities detained thousands of irregular migrants. In Guerrero state (south), prosecutor’s office said two gunmen launched attack in coastal resort of Acapulco, killing two; police later shot dead assailants. In Michoacán state (centre), clashes between security forces and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) 2 April killed at least nine in Sahuayo municipality, including one police officer; security forces 4 April killed five suspected CJNG members in Chavinda and Jaconda municipalities. In Veracruz state (east), shoot-out between alleged crime group members and police 5 April killed four in Acultzingo. In Mexico state (centre), unidentified attackers 10-11 April shot dead family of eight in Tultepec municipality. In Chihuahua state (north), unidentified criminal group 16 April killed five, including police officer and migration official in Janos municipality. UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances 12 April called for end to “absolute impunity” over disappearances, said organised crime “central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants”; By late Nov 2021, over 95,000 people registered as disappeared, with average of 8,000 new cases each year since 2017. Senate 27 April approved establishment of National Human Identification Centre to facilitate search for missing persons, albeit without allocating resources. On political front, in first recall referendum in country’s history, 92 per cent of 18 per cent registered voters 1o April voted for President López Obrador to remain in office for six-year term, which supporters viewed as proof of his popularity; opposition dismissed vote as propaganda. Ruling party MORENA 17 April failed to obtain two thirds parliamentary majority necessary to change constitution and implement energy reform, tightening govt control over energy sector. MORENA majority 18 April fast-tracked change in mining law to secure national control over lithium; Senate 20 April passed new mining code. National Migration Institute 26 April said authorities detained almost 6,000 migrants in four-day span, pointing at sharp rise in irregular migration; in just one day, authorities 24 April arrested 330 migrants on Puebla-Orizaba highway.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

21 Apr 2022
Every group [in Mexico] I've ever talked to claims that they don't extort, kidnap or kill innocent people... These claims are, from my experience, never free of contradictions. CNS

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
14 Mar 2022
There is no category in international law for the violence and conflict that’s plaguing Mexico, and especially Michoacán. Vice

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
4 Mar 2022
There is always an element of negotiation when you use [violence] against the state. InSight Crime

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
31 Jan 2022
What makes such a wave of journalist killings [in Mexico] possible is that criminal interests … are almost never properly investigated or punished. The Guardian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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

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.

Breaking the Cycle of Violence in Mexico and Central America

COVID-19’s economic devastation will likely make Mexico and the Northern Triangle an even more fertile ground for drug cartels and gangs. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2021 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to discourage iron fist policies and instead help design local security strategies. 

Also available in Español

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.

Our People

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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