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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

Political violence ran high in lead-up to legislative, gubernatorial and municipal elections set for 6 June, as several candidates killed. Unidentified assailants killed Leobardo Ramos Lázaro, mayor of Santa María Chahuites town, Oaxaca state (south) 4 Feb; Juan Gilberto Ortiz Parra, ruling party National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) precandidate for mayor of Úrsulo Galván town, Veracruz state (south) 11 Feb; Gladys Merlín Castro, former mayor of Cosoleacaque town, also Veracruz state, and her daughter, Karla Merlín, MORENA precandidate for Cosoleacaque mayor 15 Feb. Amid growing anger over President Obrador’s backing of ruling party candidate for southern Guerrero state governor, Mariano Salgado, who is accused of rape, protesters for and against Salgado’s candidacy 24 Feb clashed in Iguala city, leaving at least one injured. Other criminal violence also high. In Jalisco state (centre), police 11 Feb found 18 plastic bags containing human remains on outskirts of state capital Guadalajara; unidentified gunmen 27 Feb opened fire on home in Tonala municipality near Guadalajara, killing at least 11. In Veracruz state, unidentified gunmen 12 Feb attacked municipal police patrol in Córdoba city, killing three. In Chihuahua state (north), unidentified assailants 14 Feb ambushed alleged members of criminal group in Villa Coronado town, killing five. Tamaulipas state (north) Attorney General 2 Feb said 12 officers belonging to elite police unit had been arrested and charged with homicide of 19 mostly Guatemalan migrants whose bodies were found late Jan near U.S. border. Attorney General’s Office 23 Feb asked Congress to strip Tamaulipas governor Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca of immunity to prosecute him for alleged ties to organised crime and money laundering. U.S. authorities late Feb detained wife of jailed Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán on suspicion of drug trafficking. U.S. administration mid-Feb said it will gradually allow into U.S. tens of thousands of asylum seekers currently forced to wait in Mexico for their immigration court hearings as a result of former U.S. President Trump’s immigration policy; 19 Feb admitted first group of asylum seekers into U.S.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
14 Apr 2020
These [armed] groups [in Mexico] are trying to be seen as catering materially and providing a notion of security in places where they are also directly preying on the population [...]. Washington Post

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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