MEXICO’S CRISIS OF JUSTICE: How a U.S.-backed effort to fix Mexico’s justice system led to turmoil

An excellent report in the Washington Post on the overall failure of Mexico’s justice “reform,” a project promoted for many years and with millions of dollars from the US. The state of Chihuahua was one of the first Mexican states to adopt the new justice system and several attorneys general from New Mexico have participated in US-AID-funded training projects for Mexican prosecutors, judges and lawyers.

I think it is one of the least-publicized and unknown chapters of the failure to address crime and violence in Mexico.  In addition to this new Washington Post piece, it seems a good time to again highlight Charles Bowden’s Mother Jones story from 2009… from the first years of the hyper-violence in Juarez and Chihuahua. He tells the story of Mexican reporter Emilio Gutierrez, fleeing for his life after being threatened with death by a Mexican army officer because of his reporting about military harassment against migrants passing through the border village of Palomas back in 2005…
I interviewed Emilio for hours at that time along with Chuck, and we also spent hours with the editors and fact checkers from the magazine who did not believe that the Mexican army could possibly be the perpetrator of the violence and corruption in Mexico. After all, the Mexican president had only recently sent the army to Mexican cities, towns and countryside to fight drug trafficking. Emilio was one of the first voices to tell American readers what Mexican state power was really up to. And what it did at that time was mild compared to the present and future now that the Mexican military has been granted even more impunity through the new internal security law:
Since 2007, the militarized “drug war” has killed more than 200,000 people in Mexico:
Here’s the most succinct description of the truth we forever refuse to learn about Mexico (thanks to Charles Bowden, writing in 2009):

“There are two Mexicos.

There is the one reported by the US press, a place where the Mexican president is fighting a valiant war on drugs, aided by the Mexican Army and the Mérida Initiative, the $1.4 billion in aid the United States has committed to the cause. This Mexico has newspapers, courts, laws, and is seen by the United States government as a sister republic.

It does not exist.

There is a second Mexico where the war is for drugs, where the police and the military fight for their share of drug profits, where the press is restrained by the murder of reporters and feasts on a steady diet of bribes, and where the line between the government and the drug world has never existed.

The reporter lives in this second Mexico.”

Go to the link to see the photographs and other graphics in this story and in the excellent Washington Post piece below …  molly molloy
By Joshua Partlow Photos by Michael Robinson Chavez Dec. 29, 2017


The SESNSP (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica), a division of the Secretaria de Gobernación, released the latest homicide statistics reporting the number of victims of homicide (and other crimes) from January-November 2017. See:

Below is a summary of these statistics as well as the official numbers provided by Mexican government agencies from 2007-present. Several tables from the SESNSP website are included below. The full report is online:


Summary compiled by Molly Molloy, Latest update December 27, 2017

YEAR #Homicides Rate=#/100,000
2007* 8,867 8
2008 14,006 13
2009 19,803 18
2010 25,757 23
2011 27,213 24
2012 25,967 22
2013 23,063 19
2014 20,010 17
2015 20,525 17
2016 23,953 20
2017(Jan-Nov)** 26,573
 TOTAL 235,737

The SESNSP REPORTED A TOTAL of 2,595 intentional homicides (homicidios dolosos) in November 2017. This is down slightly from the number of 2,773 reported for October 2017. According to the SESNSP data on the number of crime victims this year, there were a total of 26,573 victims of intentional homicide from January-November 2017. This total represents an average of more than 2,400 victims per month (79 victims per day), thus it is very likely that the year 2017 will end with a total of nearly 29,000 homicide victims. Considering the average number of homicides each month and the fact that homicides have increased during the second half of the year, it is nearly certain that 2017 will surpass the total number of homicide victims (27,213) in 2011 and 2017 will be the most violent year in recent history in Mexico.

If we add the estimate of more than 30,000 people reported missing/disappeared as reported by Mexican government agencies and civic groups, then the number of people killed or disappeared since 2007 is likely greater than 265,000. See:

Registro Nacional de Datos de Personas Extraviadas o Desaparecidas:

*Homicide totals 2007-2016 from INEGI in report released in July 2017. See:

**Homicide totals for 2017 from SESNSP:

The latest report covers numbers of victims through November 2017:

Below are screen shots of several charts for 2017 from SESNSP January-November:

See source document online:

[As noted below the tables, “these data are provided by and updated on a monthly basis by the Attorneys General and Prosecutors’ offices in the 32 Mexican states.”]

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 09.09.53

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 09.10.58

The table below provides total homicides reported for the previous four “sexenios” (presidential terms). President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term began in December 2012. Homicides decreased slightly during the first three years of his term, then increased steadily after 2015 (see table above). If the trend continues, EPN’s sexenio (which ends in Dec 2018) will probably be the most violent in terms of total homicides. To more accurately compare these trends over time, it will be necessary to calculate the murder rate (#homicides per 100,000 people).

Sexenio Homicides INEGI Homicides per day
Salinas 1989-1994 93,493* 43
Zedillo 1995-2000 80,311 36
Fox 2001-2006 60,162 27
Calderón  2007-2012 121,683 56
Peña Nieto 2013-Nov 2017 114,124 64

*INEGI homicide data for 1990-1994 plus SINAIS (Sistema Nacional de Informacion de Salud) for 1989.

For an older and more detailed explanation of Mexican homicide statistics during this period of hyperviolence, see:     The Mexican Undead: Toward a New History of the “Drug War” Killing Fields

molly molloy