Mexico Intelligence News Summary
Currently, there is little evidence that the policies of President López Obrador for combating organized crime are rendering positive results. By most measures, March was considerably more hazardous for Mexican residents than any month since mid-2018. Furthermore, some measures show similar levels of violence experienced in 2012. The bad press is not just within Mexico as the international media has picked up on some recent bad news. For example, a widely-publicized report by the Consejo Ciudadano de Seguridad y Justicia indicates that Tijuana had the highest homicide rate among cities of the world (138 homicides per 100,000 residents). Indeed, five out of the six most violent cities in the world are in Mexico.
There were 60 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported in March. This figure is the highest since July 2018. Among these incidents, there were 12 assassinations of government or party officials. This is the highest number since January. There were two attacks on army or marine patrols. Both these incidents occurred in Veracruz. Two federal police patrols were attacked in Guanajuato and Puebla.
There were also several attacks directed at fixed targets. In one case, gunfire and a fragmentation grenade were used in an attack on a police station in Jáltipan de Morelos, Veracruz. Gunmen fired on a police station in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz. Shots were fired at the offices of the Fiscalía General de la República in Irapuato, Guanajuato. Shots were fired at the offices of the Alianza Sindical in Agua Dulce, Veracruz.
Attacks on governmental authorities occurred in 16 states; which is on par with most months in 2018. These attacks occurred in Baja California, Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. There was also a notable increase in attacks on police in Guanajuato this month.
Numerous corrupt political leaders and police officers were also arrested on various charges. For example, an official with the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública was arrested on kidnapping charges in Fortín de las Flores, Veracruz. Two former state police commanders were charged for forced disappearances of two individuals in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. Three state police officers were charged with kidnapping in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. A former mayor was arrested on extortion charges in Otzoloapan, Edomex.
At least 50 street battles were reported during March. This figure is slightly higher than January and February but similar to most months of 2018. These battles occurred in 15 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz). A series of battles lasted for more than six hours in Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas. Stray bullets killed a bystander during one of the battles in Miguel Alemán. Two women were critically injured by stray gunfire during a street battle in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
The number of felony homicides has not yet been reported for March, however, it is likely that the figure will closely match those of the last several months. In other words, it will likely be near 2400 for the month. There were numerous attacks on civilians in public venues such as restaurants, bars, shopping areas, markets, repair shops, two salón de eventos, a church service, a funeral, and a fiesta de quinceañera. There were 39 such incidents in March, resulting in 95 fatalities. The number of distinct incidents was the highest since November 2018. However, the number of fatalities is the highest since April 2017. These attacks occurred across 11 states (Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz).
There were 12 fatal extortion-related incidents reported during March; resulting in 17 fatalities. This figure is similar to most months of 2018. These incidents occurred in Baja California, Guanajuato (2 incidents), Guerrero, Mexico City, Oaxaca (2 incidents), and Veracruz (5 incidents). The victims included the owners or employees of bars, restaurants, hotels, an auto parts store, and a butcher.
Mexican authorities reported the disruption of four kidnapping operations this month. The figure is similar to the previous six months. These operations were located in Jalisco, Puebla, and Veracruz (2 operations). There were also several cases in which authorities were able to rescue kidnap victims.
Trucks transporting commercial cargo and fuel continue to be targeted by organized crime groups. There are no official figures for March yet, but the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP) reports that there were 3760 robberies of travelers or transport across Mexico during February, and 76% of these occurred on commercial vehicles. Also, 75% of these robberies involved violence. The final numbers for March will likely be similar.
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Official figures on violence indicate a general upward trend since early 2018, with a peak in homicidios dolosos (intentional homicides) in July 2018. The number of these incidents declined slightly during the last quarter of 2018. However, January is now the highest month since September; with 2452 homicidios dolosos. This represents a 2.7% increase over the average for all of 2018. Official data for February is not yet available from the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB). Furthermore, several states specifically reported increased violence in the last two months. Guanajuato reported the highest number of homicides of any state during January, followed by Edomex, Baja California, and Jalisco. Notably, there has also been a surge of violence in Nuevo Léon during the last few months. The situation is so dire in southern Veracruz that the mayor of Coatzacoalcos was at a groundbreaking ceremony when angry residents demanded he bring a halt to the violence plaguing the city. In sum, it is apparent that any efforts of the López Obrador administration to improve public safety have yet to take effect.
There were 58 attacks against governmental authorities during February. This is the highest number since July 2018, and this was accomplished in a 28-day month. Of these, there were six assassinations of administrative officials or party/union leaders.
Three military patrols were attacked this month in Jalisco, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas. One federal police patrol was attacked in Michoacán. In that incident, gunmen fired on a police checkpoint on Highway 37D in southern Michoacán. Four state police patrols were attacked. These incidents occurred in Edomex, Guanajuato, and Tamaulipas (2 incidents). Seven municipal police patrols were attacked in Chiapas, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nuevo Léon, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. This is the largest number of attacks on municipal patrols since September.
There were also several attacks directed at fixed targets. For example, shots were fired at the municipal palace in Teloloapan, Guerrero. Shots were fired at the windows of the offices of the Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) in Cuernavaca, Morelos. No injuries were reported. Gunmen fired on a state police station in San Juan Evangelista, Veracruz.
Attacks against governmental authorities occurred in 17 states this month. This figure is on par with most months of the last few years. These incidents occurred in Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz.
Mexican authorities seized weapons, munitions, explosives, armored vehicles, or body armor at seven sites across Chihuahua, Coahuila, Jalisco, Michoacán, Tamaulipas (2 sites), and Veracruz. Several dozen rifles, including a Barrett 50-caliber sniper rifle, were seized in Ciudad Camargo, Tamaulipas. Forty-five rifles and ammunition were seized in Reynosa. Six fragmentation grenades were seized following a battle in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco.
There were 43 battles between sicarios (cartel gunmen) and governmental authorities, or between rival cartels this month. This figure represents a decline from January but is still higher than the monthly average for 2018. These battles occurred in 13 states (Chiapas, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz).
At least 23 taxi drivers were killed in Guerrero, Jalisco, Nuevo León (3 killed), Oaxaca (3 killed), Tamaulipas, and Veracruz (14 killed). In a period of less than an hour, three taxi drivers were gunned down at different locations across Monterrey, Nuevo Léon. Gunmen opened fire on a group of taxi drivers in Xalapa, Veracruz. One driver was killed, and nine were injured.
There were 13 fatal extortion-related attacks this month, resulting in 17 fatalities. This number is similar to January. These incidents occurred in Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco (2 incidents), Morelos, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz (5 incidents).
The number of reported highway robberies dropped slightly from 1143 in December to 1108 in January (SEGOB). However, the percentage of these that involved violence increased from 88% to 90% during the same time period. Furthermore, robberies on public transport increased by 37% (with 1992 incidents reported during January). The data for each of these crimes is not yet available from SEGOB for February.
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Public safety conditions during January closely matched those of the previous month. The number of attacks against authorities was similar to the previous five months. As was the number of battles reported. There were, however, a higher number of kidnapping incidents reported by the media this month. As indicated by our Annual Report, the high levels of insecurity across many areas of the country have continued throughout 2018. Interestingly, in a recent speech, President López Obrador denied that there had been an increase in violence during December, the first month of his presidency.
There were at least 54 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during January. This figure is the highest since October 2018. Of particular significance was the high number of assassinations. There were 16 such incidents reported this month.
Eleven state police patrols were attacked in Edomex, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas. Three state police officers were injured during an ambush in Apatzingán, Michoacán. Two state police officers were killed in Tejupilco, Edomex. Photos from the scene indicate that over 100 rounds were fired into their vehicle. Gunmen also attacked state police in an attempt to facilitate the escape of a prisoner in Culiacán, Sinaloa. Assailants attacked a state police vehicle in an effort to free a prisoner in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz. In another apparent attempt to facilitate an escape, gunmen attacked a van transporting a prisoner in Cancún, Quintana Roo. The prisoner was killed in the incident. One municipal police patrol was reported attacked this month. In this case, two municipal police officers were injured during an attack on their patrol in Jesús Carranza, Veracruz.
There were also 17 additional fatal attacks on authorities across several states
Mexican federal authorities reported the arrest or death of just two regional leaders or key operatives of the major criminal organizations during January. This figure marks a continued decline over the last few years.
Authorities reported the seizure of weapons and munitions caches at 16 separate locations across Baja California, Guanajuato, Guerrero (2 sites), Jalisco, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas (6 sites), Veracruz (2 locations), and Zacatecas. The army seized more than 100 firearms (including three antique belt-fed machine guns), eight fragmentation grenades, three grenade launchers, and 33,000 rounds of ammunition in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. Two Minimi belt-fed machine guns, numerous rifles, tactical gear, body armor, and more than 2000 rounds of ammunition were seized in Cuajinicuilar, Guerrero. Four home-made armored trucks, rifles, ammunition, a fragmentation grenade, and a 40mm grenade launcher were seized following a battle in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Another such vehicle was captured in Reynosa a few days later. Weapons, ammunition, and three grenades were discovered in Sonora. Firearms, ammunition, and four fragmentation grenades were seized in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. A dozen rifles, 90 rifle magazines, and body armor were seized in Reynosa. Nine grenades were also seized from a truck in Zacatecas. Two fragmentation grenades were found at a site in Guanajuato. Fragmentation grenades were also seized in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.
There were 46 street battles reported during January. This figure is similar to most months of 2018. These incidents occurred in 17 states (Chiapas, Coahuila, Colima, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas).
As we continue to report each month, overland travel in many rural areas of Mexico should be considered hazardous. There continue to be reports of armed highway robberies in Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz.
Bus passengers continue to be targeted by armed robbers. For example, passengers were robbed on a bus traveling between Huatusco and Fortín de las Flores, Veracruz. Passengers were robbed on a bus in Oaxaca, Oaxaca. Gunmen robbed passengers on a bus traveling along Highway 185 near Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. Bus passengers were robbed in Nuevo León. Passengers were robbed on a bus in Ecatepec, Edomex. Passengers on another bus were robbed in Veracruz, Veracruz.
Official figures concerning the total number of homicide victims of organized crime are not yet available for January. However, preliminary assessments suggest the month will be similar to the last several months. Also, at least 66 people were killed in attacks on civilians in public venues such as restaurants, bars, small businesses, shopping areas, a tianguis, a kindergarten, a salón de fiestas, a clinical laboratory, a tortillería, and a cemetery. This represents a slight decline from previous months. There were 34 such attacks this month across Baja California, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico City, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. Most of these incidents were in Tamaulipas and Veracruz.
There were 13 cases of fatal attacks related to extortion operations during January; resulting in 20 fatalities. This figure is on par with the previous six months. These incidents occurred in Baja California, Guanajuato (4 incidents), Guerrero (2), Nuevo León (2), Oaxaca (2), and Veracruz (2). In addition to these attacks, there were several acts of vandalism as well.
There were multiple robberies of numerous supermarkets and stores (e.g., Bodega Aurrerá, Coppel, Elektra, Soriana, etc.) in Oaxaca and Veracruz. Gunmen stormed into a shopping center and robbed from a cafe, and several patrons in Xalapa, Veracruz. Gunmen robbed a school in Gabino Barreda, Veracruz. A similar incident occurred at a school in Ciudad Camargo, Tamaulipas. At least five banks were robbed in Oaxaca and Veracruz. Several ATMs were stolen in Veracruz. Bank customers were robbed in Oaxaca (3 incidents), Tabasco, and Veracruz (2 incidents).
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December marked the first month of the López Obrador presidency. Therefore, it will be many months, and possibly years before we can evaluate any potential improvements to public safety under his guidance. Meanwhile, by most measures, December was similar to the previous three months. Indeed, there were no measures that diverged from the patterns developed during early 2017 and which have continued throughout 2018.
There were 47 attacks directed against governmental authorities reported during December. This figure is on par with November, but approximately 22% lower than the average for all of 2018. More importantly, 10 of these incidents involved the assassination of elected officials, political candidates, or political party activists.
The media reported that two fragmentation grenades were detonated in the compound of the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Elsewhere, gunmen fired on the offices of the Procuraduría General de Justicia de Tamaulipas (PGJT) in Ciudad Victoria. There were 19 additional attacks on governmental authorities. In most cases, these involved the execution of police officers in the course of their duties, or while off-duty.
Attacks against governmental authorities occurred across 19 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). This is the highest number of states impacted since May.
Mexican federal authorities reported the capture of three regional leaders or key operatives of the major cartels this month. This number represents a significant decline from 2017 and the first few months of 2018.
Authorities reported the seizure of weapons, munitions, and explosives at seven sites across Edomex, Guerrero (4 sites), Puebla, Tamaulipas. A historic Browning belt-fed machine gun was seized along with numerous other weapons, munitions, and vehicles in Petatlán, Guerrero. Two Barret 50-caliber sniper rifles and an FN Minimi Squad Automatic Weapon were also seized in Guerrero. A Barrett 50-caliber sniper rifle was recovered in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Body armor was seized in Acatzingo, Puebla.
There were 50 street battles reported during December. This is the highest number since August, but it is on par with the monthly average for 2018. These incidents occurred across 17 states (Baja California, Coahuila, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). This is the highest number of states since August. In contrast to the last few years, there were several battles in Coahuila this month.
There was a noticeable increase in violence against civilians and rival cartel members this month. By one measure, the bodies of 336 victims were found on mass deposits at 123 different sites across 22 states. The number of victims is the highest since August, and it is 6.5% higher than the monthly average for all of 2018. The number of deposit sites and the number of states are also higher than average.
There were 16 fatal extortion-related attacks reported this month. These incidents occurred in Guanajuato (3 incidents), Mexico City, Michoacán (2 incidents), Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo (2 incidents), and Veracruz (6 incidents). Among the victims were the owners or employees of several bars, restaurants, small stores, and repair shops. There have also been reports of increasing extortions against schools in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.
Mexican authorities reported the disruption of five kidnapping operations this month. This figure is slightly lower than the average for all of 2018, but 34% lower than 2017. The incidents during December occurred in Quintana Roo, Veracruz (3 operations), and Zacatecas.
There were increased reports of armed robberies directed at all types of establishments as well as individuals this month. With regard to cargo theft, there was increased activity in Puebla and Veracruz.
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November marked the last month of the Peña Nieto administration, and it is highly likely that he looks forward to not being held responsible for insecurity across the country. It will be undoubtedly interesting to see if policies implemented during the incoming administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador will improve public safety in Mexico. Meanwhile, the security situation in November remained extremely difficult for thousands of Mexicans.
There were 48 attacks directed at government authorities reported this month. This figure represents a notable drop from the previous month. Furthermore, there were just two assassinations of current or former elected officials or party activists this month. This is the lowest number of assassinations since March 2017.
Attacks against government authorities occurred across 16 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Morelos, Nuevo León, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). The majority of incidents were in Tamaulipas and Veracruz, but there was a notable increase of incidents in Nuevo León as well.
Mexican authorities announced the capture of one regional leader of the Gulf Cartel during November. This figure is significantly lower than previous months. Part of the reason is that many of the major criminal organizations have fractured as the key figures have been apprehended or killed.
Numerous elected officials or law enforcement personnel were charged with a variety of offenses relating to organized crime.
Mexican authorities seized weapons and munitions at three sites across Edomex, Sonora, and Tamaulipas. Authorities seized a cache of more than 31,000 rounds of ammunition at the site in Tecámac, Edomex. Finally, the Mexican army seized a technical vehicle (Non-standard tactical vehicle, NSTV) equipped with a 50-caliber machine gun mounted in the back in Caborca, Sonora. A similar NSTV was seized in Jalisco in August. Several AKM rifles were also seized at the site in Caborca. Several armored vehicles were recovered following a battle in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Michoacán. An armored vehicle was destroyed by arson in Navolato, Sinaloa.
The Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) released the homicide figures for October, and they reveal that there were 3647 homicides reported across Mexico that month. Of these, 2460 were classified as homicidios dolosos. Both of these figures are slightly higher than the average of the first nine months of 2018. It is likely that the numbers for November will be similar.
At least 31 taxi drivers were killed this month. These incidents occurred in Guanajuato, Guerrero (3 victims), Oaxaca (3), and Veracruz (24). A passenger was injured by gunmen during one of these incidents in Martínez de la Torre, Veracruz. Also, a taxi driver was kidnapped from his vehicle in Coatzintla, Veracruz. Several truck and bus drivers were also killed this month. For example, a bus driver was shot and killed in his vehicle in Acapulco, Guerrero. Another bus driver was injured by gunmen in Tehuacán, Puebla.
There were at least 14 fatal extortion-related incidents reported this month; resulting in 22 fatalities. This figure is slightly lower than the average of the previous 12 months. These incidents occurred in Baja California, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca (3 incidents), Tamaulipas, and Veracruz (6).
Federal authorities reported the disruption of four kidnapping operations this month. Undoubtedly there were many more incidents. Of those reported to the media, they occurred in Edomex, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz.
The official number of highway robberies across Mexico for November is not yet available. However, there were numerous reports of cargo theft this month. In some cases, authorities were able to recover the stolen vehicles. Seven stolen buses were recovered by federal police in Rodríguez Clara, Veracruz. The buses belonged to Autobuses Unidos (AU). Federal police detained several cargo hijackers near Tlapacoyan, Veracruz. Nine stolen fuel trailers and four complete fuel transport rigs were seized in Reynosa.
A truck was hijacked along Highway 131 between Martinez de la Torre and Atzalan, Veracruz. A truck driver was injured by gunfire during an attempted hijacking on Highway 150D near Quecholac, Puebla. A truck driver was shot and killed during an attempted robbery as he traveled along Highway 150 between Mexico City and Veracruz. Another truck driver was kidnapped from his vehicle near Cuapiaxtla, Tlaxcala. A security guard escorting a tractor-trailer was injured by gunmen dressed as military personnel at a fake checkpoint on Highway 150D near Esperanza, Puebla. A similar incident occurred on Highway 150 near Tecamachalco, Puebla. A security guard was injured in that incident as well. Three truck drivers were killed during hijackings in the same area. There have been numerous reports of truck drivers being robbed at fake police checkpoints set up along Highway 150D near San Martín Texmelucan, Puebla.
Numerous businesses such as large stores and currency exchange facilities were robbed this month. Also, in a brazen attack, armed robbers stole 100,000 pesos from the municipal palace in Ecatepec, Edomex. A police officer was injured during that incident. At least five banks were robbed in Nuevo León, Oaxaca, and Veracruz. In one case, an Israeli citizen was arrested for bank robbery in San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León. A group of assailants dressed as waiters robbed 10 million pesos from an armored truck in Naucalpan, Edomex. Two security guards were killed in the attack. Several ATMs were stolen in Oaxaca and Veracruz. In one case, assailants overpowered police officers and stole the ATM in Asunción Ixtaltepec, Oaxaca. Also, over the last year, there have been increasing reports of customers being robbed inside or near banks. At least seven such incidents were reported in Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz this month. In one case, assailants fired on bank customers in Veracruz.
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