Zeta Magazine Tijuana, Baja California –Despite the triumphalist narrative of the government of the Republic and the powerful propaganda announcing a supposed “decline” in felony homicides related to federal crimes, toll of dead is accumulating in the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto. In his first 14 months in office, the total is in the thousands, the same as mounted up against Felipe Calderón in the comparable time period [of his administration, 2006-2012].
On February 21, 2014, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Secretary of Government Relations, boasted of a supposed reduction in the rate of murders linked to organized crime. He said that in recent months
“between 1,400 and 1,700 deaths were linked to organized crime” were recorded, and he announced that in January “only 567 [were recorded]; [that is,] one thousand fewer.”
Osorio Chong then added: “The 567 deaths are serious, but it’s one thousand fewer. This speaks to why there is a decline in violence.”
However, Osorio Chong’s calculations were neither supported by hard data nor do they reflect the cruel reality experienced in the country. To the contrary, they show the manipulation of statistics for felony homicides linked to organized crime in Mexico.
Just in January  alone, Zeta documented 1,425 murders of this type, which spanned “executions,” “confrontations” and “homicide-attacks”; that is, score-settling between drug dealers belonging to different drug cartels or between cells of these criminal structures across the country.
On February 21 at the conference, “Governability and Rule of Law as Development Strategy,” organized by the National Chamber of the Transformation Industry, [SEGOB Secretary] Osorio Chong himself stated:
“The first commitment that President (Enrique Peña Nieto) made on December 1, 2012, was that the violence had to drop. And that violence has decreased to minimum levels.”
What abounds in Peña Nieto’s cabinet is inconsistency in the percentages reported about the supposed decline of murders in the country. On October 30, 2013, Monte Alejandro Rubido García, head of the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (NPSS), told Zeta said that felony homicides related to federal crimes had fallen 12%. The same year, the President spoke of [reductions of] 18 and 20%.
These inconsistencies in statements by federal officials show, if not a manipulation in statistics, certainly a lack of coordination in the management of the numbers on the supposed “decline” of intentional murders.
The Most Violent States
Zeta documented felony homicides related to organized crime in the first 14 months of the Peña Nieto administration. The methodology consisted of comparing official State statistics [obtained from] prosecutors, Secretariats of Public Security and the Executive Secretariat of the NPSS with information collected by civil associations, institutes of forensic sciences, newspaper records by state and [information collected by] government officials.
First Place: State of Guerrero with 2,457 murders from December 1, 2012, to January 31, 2014, which is governed by Ángel Aguirre Rivero, PRI, who won the governorship in the PAN-PRD alliance.
Second Place: State of Mexico with 2,367 murders. By the way, it is Enrique Peña Nieto’s home state; he was governor between 2005 and 2011; the current governor is Eruviel Ávila, also PRI. Third Place: State of Chihuahua with 2,005 murders under the administration of Governor César Duarte, PRI.
Fourth Place: State of Jalisco with 1,766 murders under the administration of Governor Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz, PRI.
Fifth Place: State of Michoacán with 1,738 murders under the administration of Governor Fausto Vallejo, PRI.
Sixth Place: State of Sinaloa with 1,516 murders under the administration of Governor Mario López Valdez.
Seventh Place: State of Baja California with 986 murders under the administration of Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, PAN [National Action Party].
In Sum: Between December 1, 2012, and January 31, 2014, of the Peña Nieto administration, Zetarecorded 23,640 murders, which are the product of the war on organized crime conducted by the federal government and clashes between drug cartels in the country.
2013: Just As Bloody As 2012
The pace of murders in Mexico has not changed between the last year of the Calderón administration and the first year of Peña Nieto’s. In the last two years, they were practically at the same level:
- 2012: 20,571;
- 2013: 20,156.
The federal government recognized 21,728 preliminary investigations for felony homicide in 2012; in the same year, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) documented 26,037.
Peña Nieto’s government recognizes just 18,147 preliminary investigations for felony murder in 2013.
It must be remembered that the INEGI, in the coming months of 2014, will announce the actual number of deaths due to related causes for 2013, which is expected to exceed the “files” released by the Executive Secretariat of the NPSS.
Acapulco: The Most Violent City
In the current government, the port of Acapulco continues to be the most violent city, with 883 preliminary investigations for felony homicide recorded in 2013 alone, according to the Attorney General of the State of Guerrero. In 2013, the Federal District ranked second, with 753.
Tijuana, the “model city” for public security in both the Calderón and Peña Nieto administrations, is third with 564 felony homicides occurring in 2013. [To give some perspective,] in 2013, Zeta documented 865 murders in the entire state of Baja California. Tijuana is shaping up to exceed the number of executions in 2013, considering that in the first two months [of 2014], 64 days, this weekly newspaper [Zeta] recorded 105 murders.
Culiacán took fourth place with 479 preliminary investigations for felony homicide in 2013, while Ciudad Juárez is in fifth place, with 453 in the same period.
Investigative Files Are Counted, Not Victims
Rather than counting victims, Peña Nieto’s government reports preliminary investigations [opened]. Thus, the federal government announced that in 2013, it recorded 18,147 “preliminary investigations” for felony homicide; therefore, the actual number of victims is higher than the number of investigations, since one investigative file may involve more than one victim.
Zeta asked Monte Alejandro Rubido, head of the Executive Secretariat of the NPSS, when the format for reporting homicide victims was changed to report the number of investigative files. He replied:
“We are conversing with each of the prosecutors, precisely because what we need is to have a consistent ability to respond. We cannot afford the luxury that some states may be responding in a timely manner, and not others, because then we generate distortion in the database that is [maintained] in the Secretariat.”
As of the second week of March of 2014, the Executive Secretariat of the NPSS continued reporting “preliminary investigations” and not victims.
In 2013, the cities and municipalities judged to be most violent in terms of murders were (Sources: State prosecutors):
- Acapulco with 883;
- Distrito Federal, 753;
- Tijuana, 564;
- Culiacán, 479;
- Ciudad Juarez, 453;
- Ecatepec, 312;
- Guadalajara, 297;
- Monterrey, 266;
- Zapopan , 258, and
- Chihuahua, 252.
translated by Jane Brundage for Mexico Voices