Mexico continues to descend into chaos, as a record number of homicide cases were opened last month, the Ministry of Public Security said Tuesday.

The ministry states 2,599 homicide cases were opened in July – an average of 84 per day, for a total of 3,017 registered victims.

This is the highest monthly toll ever record since Mexico began keeping stats on homicide cases in the late 1990s. The previous record of 2,894 was set in May.

In 2018, there have been 16,399 homicide cases opened in the first seven months, which represent a 14 percent increase over the same period last year, said the Los Angeles Times.

Last year was the country’s most violent period on record, with more than 25,000 homicide investigations into 31,174 death.

If the parabolic death trend continues, 2018 could go in the record books as the most violent year ever.

Scott Stewart, a Mexico analyst at the Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor, spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the problematic situation in Mexico. He said Mexican authorities did not have much choice but to splinter the cartels. “You can’t let them get to the point where they can actually challenge the state,” he said.

There is no doubt that Mexico’s kingpin strategy of killing or arresting cartel heads has had a destabilizing effect in the region, he explained.

“Years ago you had large cartels that were fairly dominant in many areas and it was fairly tranquil,” he said. “Now there’s so much friction, and it leads to violence across the board.”

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, recently acknowledged that the government’s strategy to fracture drug cartels has, by some means, failed.

“I am the first to recognize that, although we made progress, it was not enough to achieve the great goal of security,” Peña Nieto said at a news conference earlier this week alongside the president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office in December.

Map of Homicides in Mexico From February 2018 to July 2018

The color of the circles corresponds to the homicide rate and the size to the number of homicide reports (which may refer to more than one victim). You can interactively filter the municipios shown on the map based on their homicide rates by using the histogram widget in the top right corner of the map. All rates shown on the map are annualized, but some municipios don’t provide data for the whole six months, if you hover over the circle a tooltip will show the number of crime/months the municipio reported. Some municipios report their homicide counts as zero when in fact it should be a missing value and not all municipios have started reporting. Also, some states publish crimes at the district level and report crimes that occurred in more than one municipio as if it occurred in a single one. Homicides include feminicides (source/ 

According to the LA Times, rising violence in the last five years played a significant role in an Obrador Presidential victory last month. Obrador recently laid out his plan to combat drug cartels, as it is likely, there is more violence to come.

“Lopez Obrador has said that he “will not rule out any option” to bring peace to Mexico. Among the radical approaches, he is considering are the legalization of marijuana and an amnesty for some drug war criminals.

Clemency for even low-level participants in the country’s multibillion-dollar drug industry would mark a dramatic shift from the militaristic approach that Mexico has long employed in its attempt to curb trafficking.

Lopez Obrador has not proposed returning Mexican soldiers to their barracks or letting cartel bosses walk free. But he has called for a more holistic approach to Mexico’s violence. That includes giving federal scholarships to students and creating employment programs to keep vulnerable young people off the streets.

Olga Sanchez Cordero, a former Supreme Court justice who is Lopez Obrador’s pick for interior secretary, has said an amnesty for low-level growers, users and transporters of narcotics would be a part of a larger effort to help reintegrate into society some of the estimated 600,000 Mexicans employed by drug cartels.

Lopez Obrador’s advisors are on a multi-city listening tour to get input from victims groups about an amnesty and other plans. Speaking at an event in Mexico City last month, Sanchez said she hopes to push for an amnesty. Her boss has given her “a blank check,” and has asked her to do “whatever is necessary to pacify this country,” she said.

For now, however, the current strategy remains in place. Last week, members of the Mexican government appeared alongside officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration at a news conference in Chicago to announce that they are focused on capturing Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, also known as El Mencho, who is the leader of the ascendant Jalisco New Generation cartel,” said LA Times.

To sum up, as long as America’s hunger for opioids and opioid analogs continues, Mexico will be the low-cost supplier, as drug cartels battle each other for control of the trade routes into the dying heartland of the US. Since Mexico’s attempt to fracture cartels did not work — lets try a new approach and it should start by curbing demand in America. How about that one?

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