2019: Mexico’s most violent year

Mexico suffered its worst year for homicides in 2019, with a record 34,582 victims

https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english/2019-mexicos-most-violent-year
Ammunition shells lay on a pool of blood in a street of Culiacan - Photo: Rahide Frías/AFP
English 21/01/2020 19:10 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Anthony Esposito, Simon Cameron-Moore & Himani Sarkar/REUTERS & Andrea Cruz/EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 19:59

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Mexico suffered its worst year for homicides in 2019, with a record 34,582 victims, official data showed on Monday, underscoring the challenge President Andrés Manuel López Obrador faces while waging war on drug cartels.

López Obrador assumed the presidency in December 2018 pledging to pacify the country with a less confrontational approach to security, but violence has continued rising, with the number of homicide victims 2.5% higher in 2019 than a year earlier, according to the Security Ministry data.

Separate Security Ministry figures using an older methodology that refers to the number of homicide investigations showed an increase to 29,401 last year from 29,100 in 2018.

Mexico has used its military in a war on drug cartels since late 2006. But, despite the arrest or killing of leading kingpins, the campaign has not succeeded in reducing drug violence and has led to more killings as criminal groups fight among themselves.

To tackle the problem, last week, Mexican officials presented lawmakers a proposal to overhaul the criminal justice system, paving the way for the Senate to take up the plan next month that could ease security cooperation with the United States.

Concern has grown over the president’s strategy, which he says still needs time, after two major crises in recent months.

In October, critics blasted the government as weak when it ordered security forces to release the captured son of convicted kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán under pressure from marauding cartel henchmen in the northern city of Culiacán.

Then, in early November, three mothers and six children were massacred by suspected cartel gunmen in northern Mexico, sparking outrage and revulsion at home and abroad.

According to a draft of the criminal justice reform reviewed by Reuters, the plan would allow private communications to be used as evidence and limit legal challenges to avoid extradition delays for criminal suspects, many of whom are U.S.-bound.

Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero told senators the plan would attack entrenched corruption and impunity as well as the roots of criminal activity.

With the counting of first-degree homicides in 2019, it is confirmed that the trend is that the last 12 months were the most violent ever in Mexico. Hence, here are the most shocking and violent events of last year due to the number of murders or the level of violence they registered.

The Aguililla ambush
Aguililla, Michoacán, October 14. A group of Michoacán police officers was ambushed by members of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which left a total of 13 police officers killed and nine injured, in addition to two patrols set on fire.

The police officers mentioned that they had already been warned there would be an attack against them if they did not accept to work for the organized crime group.

Yesterday, Fabián “N,” The Clown, was arrested for allegedly being involved in the attack.
 

The “Culiacanazo”
Culiacán, Sinaloa, October 17. During four hours, the city of Culiacán was in chaos and terror sowed by members of the Sinaloa cartel, who blocked and threatened federal armed forces to make them release Ovidio Guzmán, El Chapo’s son. The attack left eight people dead, five of which were alleged members of crime groups, as well as 16 people injured, including five from the National Guard.
 

The attack to the “Caballo Blanco” bar
Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. August 27. Armed men entered the bar “El Caballo Blanco” (The White Horse) and opened fire against the attendees and then tried to set the place on fire. The final toll was of 31 people killed. The business, a strip club, was attacked with Molotov bombs. One of the aggressors was a 15 years old young man who had serious wounds.
 

Minatitlán’s Holy Friday
Minatitlán, Veracruz. April 19. On Holy Friday night, an armed group entered and opened fire in a venue where a private party was taking place. 14 people died, including a one-year-old baby. Three persons have been arrested on the case, who have alleged links to the Jalisco New Generation cartel. It was also confirmed that Julio César “N”, La Becky, owner of the bar “La Esquina del Chacal” was whom the gunmen were looking for.
 

Uruapan’s hanged victims
Uruapan, Michoacán. August 8. The city of Uruapan woke up to terror and violence. In an unprecedented event, 19 people were murdered, some of them were hanged and others dismembered in three different places of the city. Authorities suggested an alleged settling of scores between the Jalisco New Generation cartel and Los Viagras. From all the victims, 15 were identified and returned to their families.
 

A town and a shooting
Villa Unión, Coahuila, November 30. A fight between police officers and alleged gunmen from the Northeast cartel left 23 dead: 17 alleged criminals, four state police officers, and 2 unarmed citizens. In addition, there were six injured officers and 10 alleged criminals arrested. The shooting took place after an attack at the facilities of Villa Unión’s municipal presidency.
 

The stacked corpses
Tepochica, Guerrero. October 15. A dispute between elements of the Mexican army and an organized crime group left 14 citizens and one military dead. Authorities said that the fight took place after the alleged criminals attacked the soldiers when they approached the place. All the bodies were found stacked in a van, the National Defense Ministry withheld for five years all the information related to the events since, it said, revealing it would threaten justice.
 

Villagrán’s bagged police officers
Villagrán, Guanajuato, December 11. Violence never let up the state in 2019. A commando attacked the police station of the municipality, killed three police officers and kidnapped four more, who were found two days later on December 13. Until that moment, there were at least 63 police officers murdered in the entity.
 

The LeBarón family massacre
Bavispe, Sonora, November 4. In the La Mora Mormon community, six minors and three adult women were murdered. All of them were part of the LeBarón family and were Mexican-Americans. Seven children survived the attack, among them Hope, who is seven months old, and Cody, who was shot thrice and who was saved by Devin, who was able to hide several of his siblings while he looked for help. Several persons have been arrested on the case, including Fidel Alejandro Villegas Villegas, head of the Janos municipality Public Security.