Clarification… Re: Border apprehensions 2000-present

A bit more clarification on these numbers as the media continues to report that the numbers of FAMILIES crossing the border is higher than ever…

See for example:
These reports seem to contradict what I reported yesterday in terms of the fact that much higher numbers of people came in the early 2000s than are coming now…

The keyword is FAMILIES.  As I said before many more PEOPLE were apprehended in earlier years… in the early 2000’s there were more than 1 million for several years in a row.  But by far, most of those were individuals and most were men.  At that time, very few women with children or unaccompanied children came… When families (including children) cross together, they are counted separately as family units and also the total number of individuals. So the number of people crossing in these family groups is now higher than it ever has been on a monthly basis, at least according to the CBP numbers.  

When families with children are arrested or detained at the border (whether they cross illegally and are caught or whether they cross at a POE and ask for asylum) they can only be detained for 20 days (mas o menos), according to law and a legal settlement (the Flores settlement) from the 1990s that Trump is trying to get overturned. But for now, the government can hold only about 3000 family units in a few special detention centers. When more families keep coming, they have to release them because they do not have space to keep them in detention. They are not releasing them to be reasonable or kind. They are releasing them because they don’t currently have enough detention space. That is why I’ve been harping on the fact that we will be seeing a huge expansion of new detention facilities in the near future.  [See: Prison camps for immigrant families ]
It is important to note that SINGLE men and women are still being detained.  I worked recently with a boy from Guatemala who was 18 when he crossed the border. He applied for asylum and he has been detained since Dec 2017 in Otero. He lost his case last week and he is still detained and will soon be deported. He decided not to appeal his case because he could not stand being locked up any longer. It will probably be close to a year in the prison for him before he is deported back to the life-threatening situation he left. I know many people in detention here who spend more than a year detained. Some even win their cases and are released, sometimes after more than two years imprisoned.
While families and children get most of the media attention, there are still tens of thousands of adults detained for these long periods and many have horrific asylum claims and they still lose and get deported. I know another man who has been detained at Otero since September 2016–more than 2 years. He is from Venezuela and presented himself for asylum at the El Paso POE. He did not commit any crime or any kind of illegal crossing. He lost his asylum case, but he has kept fighting through appeals–after more than two years behind razor wire in the Otero County, New Mexico detention center.
There is certainly some truth to what is said that people come with their children because they think it will keep them from long term detention. At least for now, it is true. But this government will not allow the situation to continue. They will either try to keep the people from crossing, or they will drastically increase long-term detention capacity… or both.  These things are already underway…
There was a good piece on NPR this week that at least mentioned this difference…a couple of excerpts are posted below.

BURNETT: Well, a Homeland Security spokesperson told me that they’re compiling the year-end figures right now, and she says the numbers of immigrant families arriving at the border will likely break records on a monthly basis. Now, it’s important to keep this in context, Mary Louise, because back in 2000, they were arresting 1 1/2 million undocumented immigrants a year. So far this year, it’s been under 400,000. But still the Trump administration is upset and frustrated. They continue to blame everything on Congress for allowing what they call catch and release loopholes in the law. The DHS spokesman told me that the agency is examining all options to secure the border.


But if they put it into practice, the question is, where would they detain all these families? Currently there are a little over 3,000 spots for family members in what are called special family residential centers. But you’re talking about thousands of these immigrant families that are arrested every week at the Southwest border these days. The government doesn’t have enough detention beds. So for the foreseeable future, you’ll see the continuation of families being arrested. They’re processed for a few days. And then most are released with ankle monitors with their kids to show up for immigration court. And that’s what’s been bedeviling the Trump administration all along. 

I hope this explanation is helpful in terms of the hyperbolic Trump and media pronouncements about the “huge numbers” of people crossing our border.

Molly Molloy


Border apprehensions 2000-present

Someone pointed out the contradiction between what I have said in previous postings on the Frontera List, that is, that the numbers of people crossing the border illegally now are actually much lower than in past years.  This certainly seems out of whack with the border crossing hysteria coming from the White House. But it also seems to contradict what people here in the border region are experiencing in terms of large numbers of people being released by ICE and needing shelter. Much of the shelter is provided by a network of church groups in the region and they are struggling to receive more than 1,000 migrants and refugees each week–numbers that are much higher than in recent years.

So how to resolve this contradiction and what data am I citing?  Here’s my attempt to answer this:
I’m using the data provided by CBP and posted online.  Back in the early 2000’s many more people were apprehended, but most of them were Mexicans, most were single men crossing to work. Those apprehended were generally not detained for a long time, but were just sent back. They did not go to immigration court. They would often cross again and try to evade the Border Patrol and many of them succeeded after several tries. The numbers during those years were as high as 1.6 million apprehensions in 2000; 1.2 million in 2005; 723,000 in 2008; 463,000 in 2010; 486,000 in 2014; 310,000 in 2017…
Fewer of the people apprehended in the early 2000’s were going through a long term process to seek asylum and fewer people came as family units or came with children. In 2017, the total apprehensions were about 310,000 [compared to 1.6 million in 2000]. This decrease is often attributed to the “Trump effect” as people making the journey held off in reaction to the threats from the new POTUS.  But, as we know, the conditions of violence and extreme poverty have continued to get worse in Central America and more people have been coming to the border to seek asylum since the beginning of 2018.
These days, more people who are apprehended are prosecuted criminally for crossing the border illegally and then they are detained before being deported. If the people are seeking asylum, and especially if they have children, they cannot be detained for long periods. The people now being released and being sheltered by volunteer groups in our region and in Arizona, the Rio Grande Valley, etc… are mostly family units who cannot (at least for now) be detained long term. And since many are seeking asylum, they must go through a lengthy court process before they can be deported.  What is happening now is that many more family units are coming and ICE is releasing them because they do not have enough long-term detention space (YET). As I’ve written here and elsewhere…
…I think that the government is seeking to expand detention space as quickly as possible. But to continue to hold families and children long term, they will also have to change some law. And they are trying to do that also. 

You can see many more border apprehension and other Border Patrol statistics here:
The monthly apprehensions (including a separate chart for FAMILY UNITS) are reported at this site.
The latest now online are from August 2018. But just yesterday the Washington Post reported a big increase in the family units in September. Those numbers should be updated online soon…
From the Washington Post:
Border Patrol agents arrested 16,658 family members in September, the highest one-month total on record and an 80 percent increase from July, according to unpublished Department of Homeland Security statistics obtained by The Washington Post.
In comparison to the 16,658 family members apprehended in September and reported yesterday, the number in August was 12,774. So the increase is big and getting bigger.  But, still nowhere near the total apprehension numbers in the early 2000s.  The difference is that most of the people coming now are claiming asylum, they are being detained for a short time and then released, many to shelters in the border region before they can join family members in the US.  Of course, if they are single adults seeking asylum, they are likely to remain detained for the duration of the immigration court proceeding, sometimes more than a year.
The total SW border apprehensions as of August were 355,106. So that is already much higher than the 310,000+ in 2017.
I’ve probably missed something here, but this is my best explanation of the differences in the apprehension numbers, past and present.  Corrections/comments welcome.  molly molloy

90 homicide victims each day in Mexico in 2018: new data from SESNSP

There were a total of 2,861 victims of intentional homicide (homicidio doloso) in Mexico in August 2018, according to the data released a few days ago by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP). These statistics are reported by the Fiscalias (the state attorneys general) in the different Mexican states. This is a slight decrease over the number of 3,020 homicide victims reported for July.  So far in 2018. there have been a total of 21,857 homicide victims in the country.  The statistics also now report another category of victims of “feminicidio.” There were 68 female victims in August and a total of 554 for the year.  It is unclear if this is a subset of the total, or if these murders of women are in addition to the overall total of 21,857.  I’m also not certain if there is a nationwide definition of feminicidio consistently applied in all of the state jurisdictions.
On average there have been about 90 murders PER DAY in Mexico so far in 2018. A brief article is below from Animal Politico + screen shots from the SESNSP data.
Also a detailed report from the Wall Street Journal published a couple of days ago, looking at homicide data throughout the region.

Latin America Is the Murder Capital of the World

Riven by drugs, gangs, weak institutions and lawlessness, the region is facing a crisis


Asesinatos en 2018 llegan a 22 mil víctimas y se registra el agosto más violento en 20 años

Son asesinadas en el país casi cuatro personas cada hora. Agosto dejó un saldo de 2,861 víctimas de homicidio, a los que se suman 68 mujeres víctimas de feminicidio; de acuerdo con las estadísticas actualizadas del Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública.

En agosto pasado casi 3 mil personas fueron asesinadas violentamente en México. Con ello, ya son más de 22 mil las víctimas de homicidio y feminicidio en el país en lo que va del año. Se trata de una cifra récord, que equivale a un incremento de casi el 85 por ciento de los asesinatos en comparación con lo registrado apenas hace tres años.

Las estadísticas actualizadas del Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP) revelan que agosto dejó un saldo de dos mil 861 víctimas de homicidio, a los que se suman 68 mujeres víctimas de feminicidio.

Links to data for 2015-present here:

2018 data available here, including details on homicide and other crime victims state by state:


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Prison camps for immigrant families

Some folks on the list today criticized my choice of words in calling out the Trump administration’s plan to violate the Flores settlement agreement and to hold families and children in long-term detention. See:

Trump administration to circumvent court limits on detention of child migrants

This move will definitely spur more investment and construction of long-term detention facilities–much of it already underway in the border region. In a serious plug for Mark Dow’s excellent 2005 book, American GulagI advocate for the hashtag #Americangulag. I do think it is reasonable to call these new and expanded immigration detention facilities internment camps, or even concentration camps.

A list member wrote in response:

“I think we need to come up with a new name as internment camp, concentration camp and gulag all invoke other history, motivation and circumstance. To me it needs to be something that encapsulates the fact that we’ve made migrants into a commodity for corporate profit. Also something that belies the fact that once profit is part of the equation the impetus to solve our border issues (whatever solve might mean) is diminished or removed entirely. Just like the border security industrial complex, once you create an economy, it becomes very hard to dismantle it.”

These are excellent points, but I am invoking the other history on purpose in this case as I think the parallels are real. For one thing, the detention center complexes in the border region have been called “camps” for many years by both immigrants detained there, guards who work there, judges in immigration courts, and lawyers for immigrants and for the government.  I have always thought it odd, but it is the custom.  Conversations like: “Where is your client?”  “At the camp…”  Or, I spent all day at the camp interviewing asylum seekers…”  etc. I think the terms internment and/or concentration camps are even more apt now in light of this planned expansion of family detention.
This practice of long-term, indefinite detention for immigrants and refugees parallels in many ways what was done to Japanese Americans, to Jews, to Soviet citizens and millions more people before, during and after WWII. I believe that many of the camps in Europe also began with profit as a major driver, to take advantage of slave labor performed by the people imprisoned, before they were murdered. See this recent article on an artifact of that terrible history:   The slogan, ARBEIT MACHT FREI, was suspended in iron over several work camps and death camps in Nazi-occupied Europe.  See also the book One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, by Andrea Pitzer.
I think that immigrant detention facilities (those in existence now, those under construction, and those being planned) are an important piece of the border security industrial complex and that’s another good term for this phenomenon. But the treatment of the people inside these immigration prisons comes from a long tradition of criminalization, isolation, and torment of “the other…”
I first visited immigrants and asylum seekers in an immigration prison in Oakdale, Louisiana back in 1986. It was a brand-new compound in a clearing in a Louisiana pine forest, surrounded by razor wire, and staffed mostly by working class family guys in one of the poorest regions of one of the poorest states. Many of the people there were refugees from civil wars in the poorest places in our hemisphere–wars designed and fucked up by the CIA. For much more on the story of Oakdale see: Other People’s Blood: U.S. Immigration Prisons in the Reagan Decadeby Robert S. Kahn.
Louisiana is another place where the immigration detention industry keeps expanding, taking advantage of a bad economy, a rural population in need of jobs, and friendly politics for the private prison industry. See (for example)   and
I now visit people detained in El Paso and Sierra Blanca, Texas and in Otero County, New Mexico in the course of helping with their asylum cases. It is not possible for me to be inside of these places without a profound sense of depression and awareness of the evil committed in service to the state. While it may come across as sloganeering, these places exude the “banality of evil…”
Just one example: I visit a teenager from Guatemala in Otero. He is seeking asylum after surviving beatings and death threats in his rural community. He traveled alone for several months through Mexico, often sleeping on the ground by the side of the road. He only speaks his native indigenous language and has never been to school. He has been detained since the day he crossed the border at the end of December 2017. He has not been able to speak in person to anyone in his own language since that day. To the best of my knowledge, he has only been able to talk to one relative in the U.S. by telephone, and to one interpreter by telephone who was hired by the attorney who represents him. That is the only way we have of learning his story in order to prepare his case for asylum.
While the government is obligated to provide competent interpreters for court proceedings, they are not obligated to help in any other way in terms of legal assistance or interpretation. But so far, the government has not even managed to provide a competent court interpreter for this young man. Rather, they have provided interpreters who speak two different indigenous languages that this young man cannot speak or understand.
I have trouble imagining the level of isolation forced upon this young detainee. Two lawyers have petitioned for his release on bond or humanitarian parole so that he can travel to the place where his one relative in the US lives. All requests for relief have been denied.
And this is only ONE of so many stories that could be told. For a first hand account of what it is like to be interned, see this from Emilio Gutierrez, the Mexican reporter who spent a total of 15 months in the El Paso ICE prison:
I agree (in part) with the list member who pointed our in our email discussion that:
“We are dealing with a different context and I think that, like border security industrial complex, we need to draw connections AND demonstrate how this is a new manifestation. Since we are among the people who are creating these terms, I want something that isn’t easy to dismiss as rhetoric. I feel it’s one of those subtle but important manifestations of language that can work for or against an argument. In my retrospective view, the ‘no one is illegal’ slogan had/has a similar problem because the law and order segment of our society could dismiss it so easily and, more importantly, it doesn’t effectively address our collective culpability in the immigration situation or its history. I agree with the politics but I’m not sure it served our argument. I don’t know that I have a better term right now… Your point about the ‘banality of evil’ is not sloganeering at all. I think that’s the crux of the situation: How do we frame this in a way to compel understanding that what we are doing is inhumane, reprehensible, and irredeemable. Maybe there isn’t a better term, but it seems worth the effort to think about it.”
[I hope the list member will forgive me for quoting these words from our conversation. I really value them.]
I’m not sure there is a simple way to resolve this. Though the contexts are very different (from WWII internment/concentration camps to 21st century immigration prisons), I believe that the banality of evil underlies the current persecution, isolation, imprisonment, and deportation of immigrants and refugees, and the policies become more normalized and entrenched (and thus, more evil) as the border security industrial complex grows and generates greater profits.
And as I noted when I passed on the Washington Post article early this morning, such policy announcements divert attention from the insane and incompetent leader who commissioned these policies. The venality of power and greed in our country continues to expand and corrupt. Absolutely.

Molly Molloy, Las Cruces, NM, September 6, 2018


182 murder victims in Juarez during August…about 900 so far in 2018

El Diario reports that the month of August is the most violent so far in 2018 with a total of 182 homicides in the city of Juarez.  The article reports the monthly totals for the year as: Jan 72, Feb 43, March 56, April 65, May 126, June 178, July 177, Aug 182–a total of 898 in the eight months of 2018. 

The Fiscalia states that the sharp increase in homicides beginning in May was the result of an internal fight in the Azteca gang (affiliated with the Juarez cartel and La Linea), now complicated by another war between the Artistas Asesinos and the Mexicles, said to be allied with the Sinaloa cartel. These eight months of 2018 surpass the annual totals for any year since 2012. The report says that 18 women were murdered in August (about 10 percent of the total), as well as seven minors.

In response to criticism that the police are not doing their job, the Fiscalia’s report points to legal issues that require those arrested for crimes to be released until tried and convicted. Thus, 8 out of 10 criminals arrested, even for crimes such as murder, are released pending trial.

The tone of the article is that all of the victims of these crimes are gang members and drug dealers, even though little evidence of their criminality is provided.

The numbers I’ve recorded for previous months differ slightly from those reported in this September 1 article in El Diario. But not by much.  We can say for certain that about 900 people have been killed so far this year in Juarez. If the average of 113 per month continues, the year will end with more than 1,300 victims of homicide.  molly molloy

Juarez 2018
January 76
February 45
March 58
April 65
May 124
June 179
July 177
August 182
TOTAL                                                                        906

Agosto, el más violento del año

S. Castro / M. Vargas /
El Diario | Sábado 01 Septiembre 2018 | 00:01:00 hrs

Ciudad Juárez— Agosto fue el mes más violento en lo que va del 2018 al cerrar ayer con 182 homicidios dolosos, derivados de dos guerras entre pandillas  –‘Aztecas Vieja Guardia’ contra ‘La Línea’, y ‘Doble AA’  contra ‘Mexicles’–, cuyos integrantes han tomado las calles de la ciudad como campo de batalla.

Al cierre de este mes, el 2018 se convirtió en el más sangriento de los últimos siete años al llegar a la cantidad de 898 homicidios contando los ocurridos de enero a agosto.

Estadísticas de la Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE) señalan que en estos ocho meses se superó –por 109– la cifra de 789 asesinatos cometidos de enero a diciembre del 2012.

Toman pandillas las calles como campo de batalla

El reporte señala que en el 2013 se cometieron 514 homicidios, en el 2014 fueron 438, en el 2015 fueron 311, en el 2016 fueron 546 y en el 2017 fueron 772, dentro de una racha violenta que desde el pasado mes de junio superó los récords de hace siete años, de acuerdo con cifras de la Fiscalía Zona Norte.

Un análisis de la Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE) y la Secretaría de Seguridad Pública Municipal (SSPM) señala que los integrantes de la Doble AA (Artistas Asesinos) y los Mexicles formaban parte en esta localidad del Cártel de Sinaloa y tienen su presencia en la zona oriente de la ciudad, donde se han declarado la guerra.

Pandillas fraccionadas

En tanto que desde mayo pasado las pandillas ‘Barrio Azteca’ y ‘La Línea’, que funcionaban como brazo armado del Cártel de Juárez, también se dividieron y entraron en una guerra sin cuartel, según informes proporcionados por la FGE.

El mes que acaba de concluir fue escenario de ejecuciones múltiples, encobijados, y homicidios en horas de entrada y salida de escuelas primarias; la mayoría de las muertes fueron con arma de fuego, entre ellas las de 18 mujeres y siete menores de edad, de acuerdo con reportes de la Fiscalía.

La mayoría de las víctimas, al igual que los 23 presuntos homicidas capturados en agosto por la Policía municipal, tienen entre tres y cinco ingresos a la cárcel por robo, narcomenudeo y daños, entre otros delitos, aseguró Ricardo Realivázquez, secretario de Seguridad Pública Municipal.

La dependencia ministerial informó que en el mes pasado 124 homicidios fueron con arma de fuego, 11 con arma blanca, cinco a golpes. Hubo dos decapitados, dos incinerados y cuatro cuerpos fueron encontrados en cajuelas o en tambos de basura.

El reporte dado a conocer por Julio Castañeda, vocero de la Fiscalía, dice que 11 de las personas asesinadas fueron envueltas en cobijas, una persona más fue mutilada, otro atropellado intencionalmente y se hallaron cinco cuerpos en estado de descomposición en diferentes eventos.

El día 3 de agosto fueron encontrados los cuerpos de 11 personas en un domicilio de la colonia Praderas de los Oasis, donde todas las víctimas murieron asfixiadas. La Policía municipal resolvió el crimen a los pocos días y se conoció que se trató de una venganza orquestada por el líder de una pandilla a quien le habían asesinado a su hijo.

El secretario de Seguridad Pública aceptó que hay una percepción social en el sentido de que las autoridades no hacen su trabajo.

Realivázquez refutó esa hipótesis y dijo que son las actuales leyes las que no permiten contener la violencia al facilitar la salida de la cárcel a los delincuentes. “Salen a matar, o a que los maten”, expuso.

Hizo alusión a que cada mes hay importantes decomisos de armas y droga y detenidos por homicidios e intentos de ejecución, pero existe una puerta giratoria. “La Policía sólo ejecuta la ley, pero no la escribimos nosotros”, dijo el mando.

El fiscal Jorge Nava insistió que las ejecuciones se están generando en el marco de una disputa por pandillas que se encuentran divididas.

La teoría es que esa fractura interna en la pandilla Los Aztecas arreció desde el mes de mayo, cuando se registraron 126 homicidios. Junio le siguió con 178 asesinatos al igual que julio, con otros 177, en tanto agosto cerró ayer con 182.

Los meses previos tuvieron el siguiente comportamiento de homicidios dolosos: enero, 72, febrero 43; marzo, 56 y abri l, 65, dice el reporte de Fiscalía.

Liberan a 8 de cada 10

En junio del 2016 entró en vigor el Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal Acusatorio en el Estado de Chihuahua, un nuevo modelo aplicado en toda la nación para sancionar los delitos sin la necesidad de mantener a los delincuentes en la cárcel mientras se investiga su acusación.

Entre otras cosas legisladores determinaron que no ameritan prisión preventiva los delitos como el homicidio imprudencial, portación ilegal de arma de fuego, robo, robo de auto, narcomenudeo, daños, lesiones, violencia familiar y hasta el abuso sexual (salvo en menores).

La cárcel se aplica hasta en tanto un juez resuelva por medio de sentencia la culpabilidad probada de quien cometió el delito, pero en los casos antes mencionados el detenido lleva su proceso en libertad. El juicio puede llevar hasta dos años, según el código actual.

Desde que esas leyes entraron en vigor ocho de cada 10 detenidos en la Fiscalía son liberados en 48 horas, dijo José Luis Contreras Cruz, coordinador de la Unidad de Personas Detenidas en la dependencia.

Robos, daños y lesiones, así como el narcomenudeo, son los delitos que más se cometen en esta ciudad, y apegadas al sistema de justicia vigente, las personas detenidas son procesadas en libertad, señaló. (S. Castro / M. Vargas / El Diario)



Record 3,017 Mexican homicide victims in July

The Mexican agency, SESNSP has released homicide data for July 2018.  Those numbers are posted in the table below with links to sources. Also, several articles in the press on the record number of homicides during July, for example:

I will note that this article cites a lower record number of “homicide investigations” opened in July. The figures in the table below come from another SESNSP report providing the number of VICTIMS, a more realistic figure for the actual death toll. molly

Mexico Homicides: 2007- July 2018

Compiled by Molly Molloy

The numbers in the table below include official Mexican government homicide statistics from 2007-May 2018, using INEGI figures for 2007-2017, with data from the SESNSP for Jan-July 2018.

The data on the numbers of homicide victims for January-July 2018 show an overall steady increase, with a very slight decrease from March-April, and again in June. Victims of homicidios dolosos (intentional homicides) increased significantly in July to a total of 3,017—nearly 100 people killed EACH DAY during the month of July 2018. During the first 7 months of 2018, there were a total of 18,994 homicide victims—an average of 90 people have been murdered each day in Mexico this year.

Homicides in Mexico, 2007-July 2018

YEAR #Homicides Rate=#/100,000 population
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** 31,174 25
TOTAL 2007-2017 240,338  
Jan 2,549  
Feb 2,390  
Mar 2,751  
Apr 2,724  
May 2,894  
June 2,669  
July 3,017  
SUB-TOTAL 2018 18,994  
CUMULATIVE 2007-July 2018 259,332  



***SESNSP 2018 reports:



***SESNSP 2018 reports:

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New INEGI data: 31,174 homicides in 2017… highest in 30+ years

The official Mexican statistical agency, INEGI, released new data today with the preliminary figure of 31,174 homicides in 2017. This is also an increase over the estimate of 29,000+ for 2017 that was reported earlier by another agency, the SESNSP. Both of these are official numbers, however, they come from different data sources. SESNSP compiles data as reported by state prosecutors (Fiscalias) and is described as the number of victims of crimes, including homicide. The information comes from homicide investigation case files.  Those figures are updated monthly. See:

INEGI compiles data from forensic medical services (morgues) in every jurisdiction in the country from death certificates in which homicide is designated as the cause of death. INEGI also gathers data from death certificates filed with Civil Registries. The INEGI data is generally considered the most accurate and verifiable.The new INEGI data is reported here:
The MURDER RATE (# of homicides per 100,000 people)  is used to compare homicide statistics between places with different populations. The new INEGI data shows a 2017 national murder rate of 25, significantly higher than the rate of 20 reported in 2016. In fact, the raw numbers of 31,174 homicides and the rate of 25 per 100,000 are higher than in any year for which data is available in Mexico.
 The previous high point was 2011, after four years of the militarized “war on drugs” set in motion during the Calderon administration. In 2011, there were 27,213 homicides and a murder rate of 24. For comparison, the US murder rate is about 5. Several other Latin American countries have much higher homicide rates than Mexico. See the table posted below from the Igarape Institute for more comparative data.
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As reported earlier on, so far in 2018, homicides are trending higher (a total of 15,973 Jan-June 2018) and the outcome for the current year is projected to supersede 2017.
The table below includes updates from the INEGI report for 2017 and the SESNSP monthly reports for 2018. Basically, we are looking at more than 256,000 murder victims from 2007 through June 2018 in Mexico.
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Here are links to a few reports from Mexican media today: Los homicidios en el penúltimo año de Peña (2017) tocan su peor nivel en al menos tres décadas
—Molly Molloy, July 30, 2018




Mexico homicides Jan-May 2018; Juarez June homicides

The SESNSP recently updated the numbers on homicide victims in Mexico, January-May 2018. Below is a screenshot of the homicide data reported and a summary of Mexican homicide data from 2007-May 2018, with links to the sources of the data.

Also today, El Diario reported that there have been 161 murders in Juarez so far in the month of June, bringing the total so far this year to about 529, an average of about 3 victims per day. There should be more detail on the victims in a few days.  molly molloy

Juarez 2018
January 76
February 45
March 58
April 65
May 124
as of June 27 161

Mexico Homicides: 2007- May 2018

Compiled by Molly Molloy

The numbers in the table below include official Mexican government homicide statistics from 2007-May 2018, using INEGI figures for 2007-2016, with data from the SESNSP for 2017-May 2018.

The data on the numbers of homicide victims for January-May 2018 show an overall steady increase, with a very slight decrease from March-April. During the first 5 months of 2018, an average of 88 people are murdered each day in Mexico.

Homicides in Mexico, 2007-March 2018

YEAR #Homicides Rate=#/100,000 population
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** 29,168 23
TOTAL 2007-2017 238,332  
Jan 2,550  
Feb 2,389  
Mar 2,746  
Apr 2,723  
May 2,890  
SUB-TOTAL 2018 13,298  
CUMULATIVE 2007-May 2018 251,630  


**SESNSP 2017 reports:

***SESNSP 2018 reports:


Acumula junio 161 homicidios violentos

El Diario de Juárez | Jueves 28 Junio 2018 | 00:01:00 hrs

El vocero de la Fiscalía Zona Norte, Alejandro Ruvalcaba informó ayer que hasta las 7:00 de la tarde habían muerto en hechos violentos 161 personas durante junio.

Dijo que a estos incidentes se suman la muerte por arma de fuego de Alfredo Benavides Ramírez, de 26 años, localizado acribillado dentro de un vehículo en la colonia Bellavista la mañana del martes.

Sobre las calles Plomo y Azucenas la policía encontró 9 casquillos percutidos de calibre 9 milímetros que corresponden a esa escena del crimen, dijo.

Germán Osvaldo González García, de 32 años de edad, perdió la vida en un hospital local a donde ingresó después de recibir varios balazos en un incidente el pasado martes, ocurrido en la calle Félix Candela de la colonia Horizontes del Sur, donde los investigadores hallaron 5 casquillos de arma larga calibre .223, según la información oficial.

También anteayer fue asesinado Manuel Rentería Pérez, de 50 años, agredido a tiros en la colonia Lomas de Zaragoza, donde sobre la calle Luciano Serra la policía tomó como evidencia seis casquillos de calibre 9 milímetros.

En el último incidente violento del martes, cuatro personas fueron asesinadas en un solo evento en las calles Manuel Altamirano y Juan José Méndez de la colonia Leyes de Reforma.

El hecho ocurrió antes de la medianoche y hasta ayer sólo fueron identificados Sergio Arturo Jasso Jasso y Daniel Humberto Espinoza Jasso, de 23 y 31 años de edad, respectivamente, como víctimas de estos hechos.




Tornillo “tent city”

A few comments regarding the El Paso area politicians quoted concerning the Tornillo tent city for imprisoning immigrant children. First, Republican congressman Will Hurd: 

“U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who represents a large district that includes Tornillo, said he is “disappointed” in the lack of information the government is providing about the “detention situation along the border.” “The crisis along the border is not new and will continue until we have smart border security, work to address root causes of mass migration from Central American countries and have enough immigration judges to apply consequences for violation of the law,” Hurd said in a statement. “Our strategy to solving our broken immigration system should never include the use of children as a deterrent.”

Here is the “smart border security” Hurd is pushing in congress: 

“Last July, Hurd introduced the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act, which would direct DHS to deploy technologies for “situational awareness and operational control of the border.” His nine cosponsors include two Democrats. The bill is awaiting a vote, but some of its key ideas found their way into the 2018 federal budget, which provides funds for border-security technology.

“Nobody is disagreeing with the smart wall,” says Hurd, a former CIA agent who is one of the few members of Congress with a computer science degree. The economics are an obvious factor. “A concrete structure 30 feet high that takes four hours to penetrate costs $24.5 million a mile,” he says. “A smart wall, a system like what Anduril is proposing, is about a half a million a mile.”

This high tech project may sound great (and cheap)… Come to think of it, tent cities in the desert are probably pretty cheap also. But consider the political and social roots of this company, Anduril, and its brains:

“The politics of Anduril’s founders may not be popular in liberal Silicon Valley, but they need to please a different audience: members of Congress and government bureaucrats. To win big border contracts, Anduril must beat out other companies peddling visions of an electronic border wall, including an Israeli firm called Elbit Systems, as well as traditional defense giants.   …

“Meanwhile, Luckey’s political activities had made him the object of tech-press scorn. News reports claimed that Luckey was involved in an alt-right group called Nimble America, paying for billboards ripping Hillary Clinton as “Too Big to Jail” and allegedly penning vicious Reddit posts for the group. On his public Facebook page, he denied many of the allegations but confirmed that he donated $10,000 to Nimble America because he “thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters.” He apologized for “negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners.” When asked about this now, the normally buoyant Luckey drops his smile and chooses his words carefully, claiming that his politics are misunderstood. “The alt-right, as it exists, as it’s defined, I do not support, never have,” he says. He describes himself as “fiscally conservative, pro-freedom, little-Llibertarian, and big-R Republican.”

“Lonsdale and Luckey argue that building cheaper, more efficient systems is a virtuous pursuit, saving taxpayer dollars. Anduril’s Palantir pedigree may have prepared it for criticism. As that company grew to a private valuation of $20 billion, its technology has been portrayed as Big Brother–style surveillance tools. Anduril’s leaders tread lightly on the subject of deadly force—traditionally the purview of defense companies—and have a ready answer when I ask whether the company will ever build systems that kill people.  … “We’re really focused on the intelligence and surveillance piece right now,” Schimpf says. But in the next beat: Not that there’s anything wrong with building weapons. “I wouldn’t say that’s a line we’re drawing.””

And the democratic nominee for the El Paso congressional seat, Veronica Escobar, has been criticized in the press because her husband, Michael Pleters, is a former prosecutor for DHS and is now an immigration judge.  For those not familiar with immigration courts, the DHS attorneys challenge every immigrant’s claim to asylum and other relief from deportation. Immigrants are not entitled to have an attorney to represent them. Most cannot afford representation. Numerous studies have shown that immigrants represented in court may prevail in about 45% of cases, while those without are successful in less than 11% of cases.  There are not nearly enough pro bono attorneys to represent even a tiny percentage of people in immigration court. El Paso immigration judges deny more than 90% of asylum claims they hear…one of the lowest rates in any immigration court jurisdiction in the country. molly molloy


“Veronica Escobar, the Democratic nominee in the race to replace O’Rourke in Congress, said lawmakers need to take action to stop the practice of separating families and therefore lessen the need for temporary shelters in the first place.  “The family separation occurring in our country is a tragedy of historic proportions, and it’s heartbreaking to know it’s occurring in our own backyard,” Escobar, a former county judge, said in a statement. “This policy, cruelty that was created by the Trump administration, is policy that the President can end, and one that Congress must end if he does not.”

“Her husband deports immigrants for the Trump administration. He was appointed in June last year by Jeff Sessions,” Fenenbock said. Pleters was appointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June to begin hearing immigration cases in July. Escobar said her husband applied for the position during President Barack Obama’s administration.” 


Trump administration picks Tornillo as tent city site for immigrant children

About 100 El Pasoans participated in the rally outside the El Paso County Courthouse Thursday.Mark Lambie / El Paso Times, El Paso Times

AUSTIN — Nearly a year after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited El Paso and called the border town “ground zero” in the federal government’s war on cartel-related crime, the Trump administration has again zeroed in on the area.

This time the government’s focus is on a quiet town on the outskirts of El Paso County: Tornillo.


Homicide in Mexico 2007-March 2018: Continuing epidemic of militarized hyper-violence

[This article also appears on Small Wars Journal, El Centro Blog: ]

Molly Molloy

Mexican crime statistics tend to elicit one of these reactions: 1) Optimistic disbelief: Have not seen anything in the news lately so surely it is getting better; can’t believe those numbers since it cannot possibly be that bad; the Mexican economy is growing, tourism is flourishing; Mexico’s beaches are the best! 2) Pessimistic disbelief: You can never believe the Mexican government statistics; it is actually much worse than what they report; what about the thousands of missing people, secret graves, and crimes never reported? 3) Numbers don’t matter. Mexico has always been corrupt and violent. Build the wall.

The Mexican agency known as the Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Security (SESNSP, a unit under the Secretariat of Governance or Gobernación, SEGOB, responsible for internal security in Mexico) releases monthly crime statistics available on the internet. The latest SESNSP report was released on April 20, 2018 and covers crimes including homicides, kidnapping, extortion, and human trafficking, among others. The data provided are described as “crimes reported in preliminary investigations initiated under the jurisdiction of the state prosecutors and Attorneys General in the 31 Mexican states.” The most recent release provides information on the numbers of victims of these crimes for the first three months of 2018.[1]

The monthly numbers reported by the SESNSP are considered preliminary in that the data originate in initial police and Public Ministry criminal investigations. However, these statistics have been consistently reported and made available online by this agency for several years and thus generate an internally consistent dataset.[2]

The other main source of statistics on homicides is the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI). INEGI releases homicide data in a more finalized form that becomes available in July of the next year from the period being reported. INEGI homicide data are compiled from death certificates issued by Civil Registries in each state in which a medical examiner has determined the cause of death to be homicide. The latest available cumulative INEGI report was released in July 2017 and reports total homicides from 2007-2016.[3]

While I agree somewhat with the pessimist noted above, the fact that these statistics are imperfect and incomplete does not mean that they are worthless. Crime statistics around the world provide little uniformity, but such numbers are still an essential tool for comparing rates of violence in different countries, regions, and cities around the globe.[4]

The numbers in the table below include official Mexican government homicide statistics from 2007-March 2018, using INEGI figures for 2007-2016, with data from the SESNSP for 2017-March 2018.

Homicides in Mexico, 2007-March 2018

YEAR #Homicides Rate=#/100,000 population
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** 29,168 23
TOTAL 2007-2017 238,332  
Jan     2,549  
Feb     2,389  
Mar     2,729  
SUB-TOTAL 2018     7,667  
CUMULATIVE 2007-March 2018 245,999  



**SESNSP 2017 reports:

***SESNSP 2018 reports:

In general, these numbers show a sharp increase in homicides beginning in 2008, rising to a peak in 2011 at the height of the so-called “drug war.” Homicides decreased slightly from 2012-2015 and then began to rise again in 2016. The total of 29,168 victims in 2017 was the highest number of homicides recorded during any year for which these data have been reported. During 2017, an average of 80 people per day were victims of homicide in Mexico. While this raw number is higher than for any other year, the highest murder rate (number of homicides per 100,000 people) was recorded in 2011. The lower murder rate of 23 in 2017 most likely results from population increase since 2011.[5] For the sake of comparison, the United States murder rate in 2016 was 5.3 according to the latest data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports.[6]

It is important to note that these statistics do not account for the thousands of people reported missing and/or disappeared. The Mexican National Human Rights Commission reported at least 30,000 missing people as of the end of 2016.[7] The official Mexican government missing persons database (also a part of the Mexican Public Security Secretariat under SEGOB) maintains records on more than 34,000 missing or disappeared persons.[8] Families often organize their own informal support groups to search for disappeared relatives in some of the most dangerous regions in Mexico, including Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacan, and Chihuahua. Few people express trust in the Mexican government’s efforts to find people who are reported missing. Indeed, families often report that their missing loved ones were last seen in the custody of police or military. To provide just a few representative examples from tens of thousands of media accounts:

Mexico City, February 2018: “Police detained Marco Antonio near a city bus stop where he was taking pictures of graffiti, a friend who was with him said. The officers accused Marco Antonio of attempted robbery, beat him, handcuffed him, and drove him away in an official vehicle, local media reported.”[9]

Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, March 2011: “In March, municipal police officers detained the two brothers of Armida Vazquez and whisked them away in patrol cars. Vazquez and her mother searched for Dante and Juan Carlos, cellphone shop workers in their mid-20s, and checked with the local and federal police here, to no avail. Nineteen days later, the strangled bodies of the brothers were found on the outskirts of this notoriously violent city. Witness testimony and other evidence led to three policemen, now in jail awaiting trial. But the police pushed back. Policemen in civilian clothes, Vazquez says, approached her mother outside church and told her to stop making trouble. When Vazquez made a statement against the suspects last month, she says other policemen and relatives of the officers threatened her outside the courthouse. Terrified, 20 members of the Vazquez family packed their bags and fled across the U.S. border to El Paso, Texas, a short trip into a world of gleaming shopping malls, well-kept highways and safe neighborhoods.”[10]

Ejido Benito Juárez, Chihuahua, December 2009: “The soldiers took them in the night. First they came for Nitza Alvarado Espinoza and Jose Alvarado Herrera. The 31-year-old cousins were sitting in a van outside a family member’s house when troops forced them into a military truck. Minutes later, soldiers arrived at the house of another Alvarado cousin, 18-year-old Rocio Alvarado Reyes. She was carried away screaming at gunpoint in front of her young brothers and baby daughter. It was Dec. 29, 2009 — the last time the cousins were seen alive. Exactly what happened to the working-class family from Ejido Benito Juárez, a dusty town in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, is the subject of a landmark case that will be heard beginning Thursday by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.”[11]

Considering the reality of the unknown number of the disappeared who have been killed, the cumulative Mexican homicide statistics for the 11-year period in the table above (245,999) should be considered the minimum number of victims. Add at least 30,000 disappeared for a possible total of 275,999: more than a quarter of a million violent deaths and/or disappeared people in a little more than a decade—an average of 69 people per day.

If the homicide rate is the measure, Mexico is not the most violent country in the hemisphere, but shares this dark spotlight with other populous countries in the region, now undergoing a crisis of violence. In a new study released on April 26, 2018, the non-governmental Igarapé Institute in Brazil reports: “Latin America suffers 33% of the world’s homicides despite having only 8% of its population. One-quarter of all global homicides are concentrated in four countries – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.”[12]

According to data reported by Insight Crime, Venezuela was the most violent country in the region in 2017 with a murder rate of 89 per 100,000. The Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia reported more than 26,000 murders in 2017. Furthermore, El Salvador (60), Jamaica (56), Honduras (43), Brazil (30), and Guatemala (26) all reported murder rates higher than Mexico’s in recent years. There were more than 61,000 murders in Brazil (the most populous country in Latin America) in 2016, and Insight Crime notes that security conditions in Brazil are getting worse. See:

For the first three months of 2018, the Mexican SESNSP statistics indicate that an average of 85 people per day are victims of homicide in Mexico. This is an increase over the totals from late in 2017 and continues the upward trend in violence. If these numbers were to continue through all of this year, more than 30,000 people will be murdered in Mexico in 2018. The recent numbers also show that epicenters of violence continue to “hopscotch” around the country. States with the highest numbers of homicide victims according to the new report are:

Mexican States w/ Highest Homicides Jan-March 2018

Guanajuato 741
Guerrero 651
Estado de Mexico 602
Baja California 504
Jalisco 490
Veracruz 434
Chihuahua 433


The statistics skeptics mentioned above also include many who criticize the focus on numbers and rather insist that we should focus more on the humanity of the victims. I would argue that it is impossible to fully appreciate the suffering that stems from this societal crisis without accepting and trying to understand the orders of magnitude of the violence. And for that, we need numbers. I will cite just one example of many that can offer a startling comparison: In 2013, the Colombian National Center for Historical Memory published its report on the civil conflict in that country which concluded that at least 220,000 people were killed in the 54+ years of civil conflict between 1958 and 2012.[13]

The violence in Mexico—much of which is attributed to conflicts between organized crime groups and the government’s militarized response—has resulted in at least 240,000 homicides in only 11 years. There are certainly differences in population (current estimates: Colombia 49 million; Mexico 130 million) to consider, as well as differences in the political and social conditions in each country over time, but just considering the raw numbers, Mexico’s recent experience of homicidal violence is startling.[14]

We must also note that the Mexican government during all of this past decade of hyper-violence, has continually stated without evidence that 90 percent of homicide victims are members of drug cartels, thus branding tens of thousands of slaughtered Mexicans as criminals killing each other. More than 95 percent of homicides are never fully investigated by law enforcement. The government never acknowledges that the violence began its steep rise in parallel with President Calderon’s deployment of the Mexican Army into the so-called “drug war,” with support and billions of dollars in military and security aid from the United States.

After ten years of increasing violence and the metastasizing drug gangs, in December 2017, the government passed a new law that further empowers the Mexican military to act domestically against “internal security threats,” thus expanding and providing formal legal authority for the militarization of law enforcement. This same policy and practice in place since 2007 has coincided with the violent intentional homicides and forced disappearances of at least 250,000 people in Mexico.[15]

April 26, 2018

[1] The full report is available here:

The SESNSP statistics are provided in several formats and are now updated each month at this link:

[2] For example, see: SESNSP Informe de Victimas 2014-2017:

[3] See:

[4] See for example:

[5] The 2017 population estimate was 129,163,276 according to:

[6] See:


[8] The Registro Nacional de Datos de Personas Extraviadas o Desaparecidas (RNPED)

[9] A Stark Reminder of Mexico’s Disappearances Crisis,

[10] Mika Rosenberg, Julian Cardona, Special Report: Federal Forces Sully Mexico’s War on Drugs, December 27, 2011,árez-violence/special-report-federal-forces-sully-mexicos-war-on-drugs-idUSTRE7BQ0BN20111227

Also: Staff, El Diario, April 11, 2011, Los mataron el mismo día que los ‘levantaron’
(no longer available on line; saved in author’s archive).

[11] Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2018, Soldiers took them in the night. Now Mexico’s key drug war strategy is on trial.

[12]  Tom Phillips, ‘Breathtaking homicidal violence’: Latin America in grip of murder crisis: Region has experienced 2.5 million murders since 2000 and report paints bleak picture of extreme violence and deteriorating security, The Guardian, April 26, 2018

Igarape Institute, April 26, 2018, Citizen Security in Facts and Figures,

[13] AP, Colombian conflict has killed 220,000 in 55 years, commission finds, July 25, 2013,; and

Colombian National Center for Historical Memory, Basta Ya! Colombia: Memories of War and Dignity, Bogota, 2016.

[14] Jorge Carrasco Araizaga, De 2007 a 2016 la violencia cobró más de 208 mil vidas, PROCESO, March 4, 2017

[15] See for example: Jose Olivares, Mexicans fear abuses as new law empowers military—but US security aid keeps coming, The Intercept, March 24, 2018,

Kate Linthicum, A decade into Mexico’s deadly drug war, lawmakers give the military more power, Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2017,