EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Seven Mexican cities, including the border towns of Tijuana and Juarez, are among the world’s most violent, says a group that tracks homicide rates worldwide.
This has to do with Mexico being the home of several warring drug cartels that try to kill each other off in a country where the government has taken a “hands off” approach toward organized crime and impunity is high, according to the group.
“Mexico for the past two years has been the world’s epicenter for homicidal violence. This is no fluke. In 2019 and 2020, the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has applied the worst crime-control policy,” the Mexico City-based Citizens Council for Public Safety and Judicial Justice said.
The group says Lopez Obrador hasn’t moved against organized criminal groups, which it says are responsible for much of the violence, under the assumption the criminals “will behave well” if police leave them alone. The government also is pursuing a policy of social spending hoping people will say no when gangs try to recruit them. The council calls both strategies “questionable.”
The council every year publishes a list of the most violent cities in the world based on murder rates. Tijuana was number one in the 2019, study, followed by Juarez.
Celaya, a city in Guanajuato, Mexico where the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) made it a point to wipe out a local gang named Santa Rosa de Lima in an effort control drug trafficking and large-scale gasoline theft had the highest homicide rate in the world in 2020, according to the group.
The world’s 50 ‘most violent’ cities
Celaya’s 109 murders per 100,000 inhabitants were greater than Tijuana’s 105. The group ranks Juarez as the third-deadliest city in the world with 103 murders per 100,000 population. Mid-sized Mexican cities in Sonora, Guanajuato and Baja California followed, with St. Louis, Mo., coming in seventh with 87.83 murders per 100,000 people. Baltimore is 16th on the list.
And even as citizens of Central American countries stream to the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum because of violent crime, the council said fewer homicides were reported in major cities in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in 2020 than in prior years.
The council says Guatemala City and San Salvador are no longer among the world’s 50 most violent cities and San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the world’s homicide capital from 2011-2014, now ranks 34th, with 41.19 murders per 100,000 population. Chihuahua City, where the old Juarez cartel now known as La Linea is trying to expel Sinaloa cartel proxy Gente Nueva, had a higher murder rate with 42.87.
In Juarez, a Honduran migrant named Victor as well as Chihuahua Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava questioned the survey’s conclusions.
Victor got shot in the foot while fleeing a criminal who tried to rob him on a pay day in Olancho, southeast of San Pedro Sula. “Crime is bad all over Honduras. Maybe they don’t kill you, but not because they don’t try,” he said.
Nava doesn’t dispute the numbers but says to refer to cities as “most violent” based solely on homicides is misleading.
“What makes a city less safe? Kidnappings, robberies and carjackings directly impact people’s safety and threaten business stability,” the deputy attorney general said. “We don’t deny Juarez has a high number of homicides […] but most of the homicides have to do with drug-trafficking, drug sales, violence from one gang to another. What makes citizens less safe? Violence among people aware something could happen to them because of the activities they are engaged in, or random crime against citizens at large?”
He said few non-drug related murders, kidnappings, extortion and robberies happen in Juarez.