Mexico Intelligence News Summary
September presented a mixed bag with regard to measures of public safety. The number of reported attacks against governmental authorities declined, while the number of battles increased somewhat. Attacks on civilians in public venues climbed, and crime data from the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP) indicates an upward trend in felony homicides over the last few months; with September likely it similar levels. The reported number of armed robberies has been on the rise since April, although it declined slightly in August. Data about extortion is less conclusive but suggests a slight increase over the last few months. The number of kidnapping incidents reported by media across the country has also surged, mostly in Guanajuato, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. As always, hundreds of people were kidnapped and murdered. In most cases, the victims were individuals associated with drug sales, as most of the violence in Mexico can be attributed to conflict between major criminal organizations across the country.
There were 31 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported this month. This is the lowest number of attacks on authorities since May 2017. Nevertheless, there were five assassinations during September. At least 21 police officers or military personnel were killed this month, a figure which is lower than the monthly average for 2020. The attacks on governmental authorities occurred across 16 states (Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). The number of states impacted was higher than August, but still on par with most months of 2019. The vast majority of these incidents occurred in Guanajuato.
Mexican authorities arrested five key leaders of the major criminal organizations this month. One cartel leader was also killed by rivals. Combined, these numbers are on par with most months of 2020.
During September, there were 40 battles between authorities and sicarios, or between rival criminal organizations. This number is the second-highest since March. The number of states impacted was similar to the average for 2020. These incidents occurred across 12 states (Baja California, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz). Some of these battles resulted in high numbers of causalities, including bystanders.
According to the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP), the number of felony homicides reported during July was 2457, while August rose to 2539. The data for September is not yet available, but it will likely be similar to the previous two months. The vast majority of victims were those who had been kidnapped and murdered.
Over the last few months, there has been a slight increase in fatalities associated with attacks on public venues. This month 56 people were killed in 16 separate attacks across seven states. The number of fatalities was the second-highest since August 2019. The number of incidents was similar to the monthly average for 2020.
There were 14 extortion-related incidents that resulted in 26 fatalities this month. This is the second-highest number of incidents since October 2019, and it is the highest number of fatalities since June. More troubling is the fact that the last four months have been the highest of any month since 2017.
Mexican authorities reported the disruption of two kidnapping rings this month; a figure which is just one higher than August, but it is still on par with the last 12 months.
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There were 35 attacks directed against governmental authorities reported during August. This figure is considerably lower than July (Figure 1 on the attached report), and it is lower than the monthly average for 2019 and 2020. Five military patrols were attacked this month. These incidents occurred in Michoacán and Tamaulipas (4 attacks). Two of the attacks occurred about two weeks apart in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
Attacks against governmental authorities occurred across 12 states (Coahuila, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz). The majority of these attacks occurred in Veracruz and Guanajuato; most likely the result of incursions by the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). The same is likely for Michoacán and San Luis Potosí.
Overland travel continues to be hazardous in many areas of the country. Assailants frequently target travelers in highway robberies and other types of attacks.
The figures published by the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) indicate that there were 2519 felony homicides in July, making it the second most deadly month in 2020. Data for August will be available late this month. Assailants continue to attack civilians in public venues such as restaurants, bars, shopping areas, and other businesses.
Data published by the SEGOB indicates that the number of reported extortions across Mexico has increased since May, and it is possible the figure for August will reflect a continuation of this trend. In addition, the media reported 13 fatal extortion-related attacks reported during August. These incidents occurred in Guanajuato, Guerrero, Queretaro, and Veracruz (10 incidents). The number of attacks and fatalities is the highest since August 2019. These attacks resulted in 21 fatalities.
A recent report by the Alto al Secuestro association indicates that Veracruz leads the nation in terms of kidnappings this year, with 607 reported. Followed by Edomex with 460, Mexico City with 274, Puebla with 133, Morelos with 128, and Tamaulipas with 90. With regard to August, authorities reported the disruption of one kidnapping operation in Veracruz. This figure is the lowest since 2011. In addition, police were able to rescue a number of individuals in several different operations.
The total number of reported robberies, which had declined dramatically during the beginning of the pandemic, has also begun to rise over the last few months (Figure 4 on the attached report). The same is true for highway robberies, which have risen to pre-pandemic levels. SEGOB reported 883 highway robberies across the country in July. With regard to August, there were numerous media reports of robberies.
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Public safety appears to have deteriorated somewhat during June and July. For example, there was an increase in the number of attacks directed against governmental authorities. The number of major street battles also increased. As was the case of attacks on civilians in public venues, and the number of fatalities surged as a result of the attack on the substance abuse rehab center in Irapuato, Guanajuato. In contrast, the number of felony homicides has generally decreased since the beginning of the pandemic, but data published later this month by the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) may prove otherwise.
The Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación CJNG continues to wage war on the Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima in Guanajuato as well as against the Gulf Cartel in Veracruz, and the Familia Michoacana in central Mexico. The major factions of the Sinaloa Cartel continue to fight each other (i.e., the sons of “Chapo” Guzman versus Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada). The conflict between various criminal organizations has also caused a surge of violence in Sonora and Baja California. There were also several incidents in Coahuila, a state that had improved considerably since 2014. Furthermore, narcomantas in Villa de Arista (Zacatecas) announced the formation of a new cartel (Cártel de los Alemanes) that will apparently join the Zetas Vieja Escuela group in combating the CJNG.
There were at least 50 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during July. This figure is the highest since March. However, the number of assassinations of government and party officials was relatively low this month. There were just two such incidents reported this month.
Twenty-nine police or military personnel were killed in attacks this month. Four military patrols were attacked in Guerrero, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas (2 incidents). The Guardia Nacional was attacked in two locations; Michoacán and Zacatecas. Ten state police patrols were attacked across Coahuila, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. There were 17 additional attacks across numerous states. Attacks against authorities occurred across 17 states, and this figure is the highest since March. The states impacted this month were Chiapas, Coahuila, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas.
Mexican federal authorities reported the arrest of five regional leaders or key operatives of the major criminal organizations during July. This figure is on par with the monthly average for 2019 and 2020.
There were 47 street battles reported during July. This figure is the highest since March, and it represents a slight uptick over the previous few months.
As we continue to report each month, overland travel in many rural areas of Mexico should be considered hazardous. Indeed, it is important to evaluate travel options and determine if overland travel can be avoided when traveling between cities in most areas of the country.
Recent data published by SEGOB reveals that thus far, there have been 45,538 felony homicides during the first 18 months of the López Obrador administration, whereas 16,179 were reported during the same period of the Calderón term, and 26,633 during the same period in the Peña Nieto administration.
While data from SEGOB is not yet available for July, information from previous months indicates that the number of reported extortions increased slightly during June. During July, authorities reported the disruption of three kidnapping operations. This figure is similar to the previous six months. These operations were located in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz.
Data from SEGOB indicates that robberies also increased somewhat during June (Figure 5). SEGOB also reported that there have been 4699 robberies of transport vehicles during January-June this year. The majority of these incidents were in Edomex (2360 robberies), Puebla (506), Michoacán (505), Nuevo Léon (340), and Morelos (215). In contrast, almost ten states reported no such crimes during this time period.
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It has become apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted public safety across many areas of Mexico. Some measures point to improved conditions, primarily because of business closures. Recent data released by the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) suggest declines in several measures of criminality. That said, the overall levels of violence and the propensity with which criminals prey on other residents are still quite high.
The media reported 39 attacks directed against governmental authorities during June. Perhaps, the most noteworthy incident occurred when sicarios of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) attacked an armored vehicle transporting the chief of police of Mexico City. The chief was injured, and two bodyguards and an innocent bystander were killed in the brazen attack. The total number of attacks occurring during June matches May but is lower than the average for 2019 and early 2020.
At least 49 police officers or military personnel were killed in attacks this month. This is the highest number since February 2013. The media reported two attacks on army patrols this month. Assailants attacked seven state police patrols. Additionally, two municipal police patrols were attacked in Guanajuato. There were also several attacks directed at fixed government targets. Attacks against governmental authorities occurred across 13 states, which is lower than the monthly average for 2019 and early 2020. These incidents occurred in Chihuahua, Colima, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz).
Authorities reported the capture of four regional leaders of the major criminal organizations. This figure is on par with most of 2019 and 2020. In one instance, Noé Israel Lara Belman “El Puma”, a key leader of the Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima and at one time considered to be the right-hand man of José Antonio Yépez Ortiz “El Marro”, was captured in San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí. Gregorio N. “Wester”, a regional leader of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), was apprehended in Olmeaca, Veracruz. Jesus Adalberto Gonzalez Avitia “Chuy Lavadas”, a regional leader of the Gulf Cartel, was captured in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas. Abraham Emilio Mendiola Sánchez “El Raveli”, a regional leader of Los Rojos, was captured in Cuernavaca, Morelos.
Thirty-three street battles were reported by the media during June. While still too many, this is the lowest number since February and significantly less than the monthly average for 2019 (see Figure 2). These incidents occurred in 12 states.
Assailants burned numerous vehicles and businesses in response to the arrest of 26 members of the Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima in Guanajuato. These particular incidents occurred in Celaya, Salvatierra, San Luis de la Paz, Juventino Rosas, and San José Iturbide.
We continue to be troubled by the extremely high levels of violence across many areas of the county. Felony homicides, which spiked in March, declined somewhat during April and May (Figure 3). However, the figures are substantially higher than just a few years ago. Some of this violence is not related directly to organized crime and maybe more political in nature.
According to data published by SEGOB, the total number of reported extortions has declined since August 2019. Despite this, there were at least twelve fatal attacks associated with extortion operations during June. At least 30 people were killed in these attacks, mostly in Guanajuato.
The media reported the disruption of five major kidnap operations during June. This figure is the highest since November 2019. These operations were located in Puebla, and Veracruz (4 operations). In addition to these operations, there were numerous reports of police rescues of kidnap victims.
As is the case with reported extortions, the total number of reported robberies has also declined, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, armed robbery is rampant across Mexico. Furthermore, customers continue to be robbed in the vicinity of banks. Several such incidents were reported in Veracruz.
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There was a decline in several measures of criminality this month. For example, attacks on governmental authorities declined considerably when compared to the previous nine months. The number of battles also diminished. Furthermore, attacks on civilians in public venues and mass deposits of bodies dropped as well. It is still not certain if these declines are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but evidence suggests this is the case.
There were 38 attacks directed against governmental authorities during May. This is the lowest number since September 2017. Three of these involved the assassination of government officials. This is the lowest number since November 2018. There were several non-fatal attacks on officials. In one case, an attack was directed at a convoy transporting a state official in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
Attacks against governmental authorities occurred across 14 states. This is the lowest number of states impacted since August 2019. These incidents occurred in Baja California, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas.
Four regional leaders of the major criminal organizations were captured by authorities during May. This number is on par with most months of 2019 and 2020.
There were 36 street battles between sicarios of rival organizations, and between Mexican authorities and cartel gunmen reported during May. This figure is lower than the previous two months and lower than the average of the previous 16 months. These incidents occurred across Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz.
While overland travel in most areas of the country should be considered hazardous, there are several locations where assaults, robberies, and kidnappings occur with greater frequency. For example, there were numerous reports of robberies occurring on Highway 150D near San José Cuyachapa, Puebla. This vital route connects Puebla to Veracruz. There are also reports of travelers disappearing while on rural highways near Poza Rica and elsewhere in Veracruz.
The media reported just nine attacks on civilians in public venues during May. This is the lowest number of incidents since early 2012. Thirty-two people were killed in such incidents this month. This figure is similar to April but is about 40% less than the average for 2019. These incidents occurred across seven states; Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz (3 incidents).
At least 79 women and girls were killed by assailants this month. These murders occurred across 17 states (Baja California, Coahuila, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Zacatecas).
There were at least eight fatal extortion-related attacks reported by the media during May; resulting in 14 fatalities. These figures are on par with most months of 2019. These incidents occurred across Guanajuato, Michoacán, Morelos (2 incidents), Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, and Veracruz (2 incidents). The victims included owners or employees of small shops.
During the last 11 months, the Comisión Nacional Antisecuestros (CONASE) reported that they had dismantled 182 different kidnapping gangs in Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz. Some of the gangs were operated by police officers. At least 1500 suspects were detained, and almost 800 victims were rescued in these operations.
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