Mexican murder rate soars as the drug cartels move into popular tourist areas

Jul 26, 2018

Mexico recorded a record number of murders in 2017 and, according to a non-profit anti-crime organization, is on pace for another grisly record in 2018. Semáforo Delictivo reports that murders are up 28 percent in the first half of 2018 over the same period in 2017.

A February murder scene in Baja California.

“The pace of murders, especially by the drug cartels, is intensifying,” says Semáforo Delictivo, saying that 11,000 execution-style murders occurred from January through June.

Of particular concern, Semáforo says, is that drug violence is moving into areas that had previously been considered safe, among them tourist towns such as San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic as well as coastal resorts in Baja California and on the Yucatan penisula.

“We are beginning to feel the impact of the bad news as foreign tourist visits are declining in most regiions of Mexico,” Semáforo Delictivo reports. “This trend will continue, unfortunately.”

According to official Mexican records, there were 25,339 murders in the country in 2017, with more 50 percent of them drug-related. The numbers, per capita, place the country in the top ten most murderous in the world. Semáforo estimates that the number could approach 35,000 in 2018.

Like Semáforo, many experts says that a number of Mexican states are under full or partial control of drug cartels. “In many respects, Mexico is a failed state,” says University of Texas researcher Roland Garrett. “The reason the country continues to function is largely the result of bribes being paid to drug cartels, either directly or indirectly, by governments and corporations. This is a fact of life in Mexico that most foreigners are unaware of.”

Garrett says that the “tipping point for state functionality” could occur if organized drug cartels target tourist areas. “If crime interests move into the Yucatan and Baja resort areas and towns like San Miguel de Allende, the impact on the national economy could be disastrous.”

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