Violence has surged across Mexico since the government declared war on the country’s powerful drug cartels in 2006, proving further the failure of a militarized approach known as the “war on drugs.”
The number of murders in Mexico in 2017 has already surpassed last year’s total, with October the most violent month in 20 years according to official figures released Monday.
From January to October, 20,878 murders were recorded, compared with 20,547 during the whole of 2016, data released by the Ministry of Public Security showed.
More than 2,300 of this year’s killings took place in October, according to the figures which reflect crimes investigated by prosecutors in Mexico’s 32 states.
The most deadly states were Guerrero in the south, followed by the heavily-populated central State of Mexico, and Baja California in the northwest.
Semaforo Delictivo, a civil society project promoting peace in Mexico, last month branded 2017 the most dangerous year in recent history, projecting more than 24,000 homicides by the end of the year.
It said the high figure reflects a lack of action on the part of the authorities alongside a “failure” of their anti-crime strategy.
With these latest figures, the total number of murders since 2007 rises to 196,479, but authorities have not made clear how many were related to organized crime.
As a comparison, the expanding drug war in Mexico claimed 23,000 lives during 2016, according to the annual Armed Conflict Survey by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS.
The drug war began in late 2006 when former President Felipe Calderon unleashed the military on the country’s drug cartels — a move immediately backed by a US$1.8 billion military aid package by former U.S. President George W. Bush. Washington provided further annual drug war aid to Mexico through the Merida Initiative since.
In comparison, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively in 2016.