Mexico Intelligence News Summary
There were 38 attacks directed against governmental authorities reported this month. The number of incidents is higher than July but significantly lower than June (mainly relating to the elections). Five of the attacks reported during August involved the assassination of politicians and party leaders. The number of assassinations is lower than both March and June of 2021 but still on par with most months of 2020.
Furthermore, at least 27 police officers or military personnel were killed this month. Three army patrols were attacked in Michoacán, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.
Five regional leaders of major criminal organizations were reported by the media as captured by authorities. These include two regional leaders of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).
The media reported 45 battles between rival criminal groups or with authorities during August. This figure is a significant decline from the previous month but exceeds the monthly average for 2020 and the first five months of 2021. These incidents occurred in 13 states (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). The number of states impacted was on par with June. However, there was a notable increase in incidents in Coahuila and Sonora.
According to monthly crime data published by the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB), there were 2395 felony homicides reported during July, a 5.7% increase over the June figure. Furthermore, media reports indicate that the bodies of at least 164 victims were discovered at 63 different locations across 19 states. The number of victims is about 5% higher than the average of the first six months of 2021, while the number of states impacted closely matched previous months.
There was an increase in the number of attacks on civilians in public venues such as bars, restaurants, a gym, and shopping areas this month. Eighteen attacks were reported across eight states, resulting in 42 fatalities. The number of fatalities is similar to May but still 8% higher than the monthly average for 2020.
Businesses and individuals continue to be subjected to extortion demands, and in many cases, these result in fatalities. There were eight fatal extortion-related incidents reported by the media during August, resulting in 11 fatalities. Undoubtedly more such incidents occurred but were not picked up by the media. Of those reported, these occurred in Guerrero (4 incidents), Morelos, Tabasco, and Veracruz (2 incidents). The number of incidents is the second-highest since January; exceeded only by June. The victims included owners and employees of several restaurants, a bar, shopkeepers, and the owner of a tortillería.
Authorities reported the disruption of three kidnapping operations in Puebla, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. This figure is similar to most months of 2021. Furthermore, there were numerous additional instances in which authorities rescued victims of kidnapping.
The Mexican Secretary of the Navy, José Rafael Ojeda Durán, reported that there were eight principal zones of conflict across Mexico. The highest number of fatalities have occurred in two of them; northern Baja California and northern Chihuahua. Additional hot spots include Sonora, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Guerrero, and to a lesser degree, Mexico City. Obviously, numerous other areas of the country experience high levels of violence, such as Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz.
There were 33 attacks directed at governmental authorities during July. This is the lowest number of incidents since December 2020. At least 20 police officers or military personnel were killed in attacks this month.
Mexican federal authorities reported capturing two regional leaders or key operatives of the major criminal organizations during July. This figure is on par with most months of 2020 and 2021. In addition to the leaders of organized criminal groups, federal authorities arrested, charged, or sentenced several government officials on various charges relating to corruption or association with organized criminal groups.
There were 60 street battles reported during July. This is the highest number reported since March and the second-highest number of states impacted since April. These battles occurred in 14 states (Chiapas, Edomex, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). Also, at least 20 people were killed in battle in Zamora, Michoacán. Another 21 people were killed in a series of battles in Buenavista, Michoacán.
We continue to advise against overland travel outside major cities in most areas of Mexico. Unfortunately, overland travel increases the risk of assault or robbery. Armed robbers target travelers in isolated settings of many highways in the country. Criminals frequently set up temporary roadblocks to rob or kidnap travelers. In other cases, they merely chase down target vehicles and attack the occupants. Even commercial buses are targeted with some frequency.
Official figures concerning the total number of homicides related to organized crime are not yet available for July. However, preliminary figures from the previous two months suggest that this month will remain above 2000. Also, this month, the bodies of 253 victims were found at 73 sites across 21 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Colima, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). The number of victims, sites, and states are all higher than several previous months, with the number of victims the highest since January and the number of states is the highest since February 2020. By far, most of the sites were in Michoacán, followed by Veracruz and Zacatecas.
There were six confirmed cases of fatal attacks related to extortion operations during July. This is the fourth month in a row to show an elevated number of incidents, resulting in seven fatalities. These attacks were reported in Guerrero, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, and Zacatecas.
The Alto al Secuestro association announced that Edomex leads the nation in reported kidnappings, followed by Veracruz and Mexico City (Table 4). Authorities reported the disruption of two kidnapping operations in July. These occurred in Edomex and Veracruz.
It is also becoming increasingly evident that law enforcement, forensic investigators, and the judicial system are overwhelmed by the violence associated with major (and even minor) criminal organizations in many areas of the country. The constant proliferation of crime scenes across Mexico means that few violent crimes are adequately investigated, and even fewer result in criminal convictions. The vast majority of perpetrators go unpunished, and justice is almost never served. Unfortunately, this situation is also well-known by criminals of all stripes, including sexual predators.
Armed robbery is common in many areas of the country. Indeed, more than 51,000 robberies were reported nationwide during June (no official data for July yet), and most were committed with violence. Criminals continue to target businesses that rely on overland transport of their products. Cargo theft/hijacking is prevalent in central Mexico and along the Gulf coast.
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There were at least 58 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during June. This figure is the highest since March 2020. In addition, the number of assassinations of government and party officials was relatively high. There were eight such incidents reported this month. Among the victims was a mayoral candidate (Movimiento Ciudadano party) who was assassinated in Cazones de Herrera, Veracruz. Despite being killed, he ultimately received almost double the number of votes of his opponents. Police later arrested the opposition candidate who had taken office after the death of his rival. The newly sworn mayor was charged for involvement in the assassination of his rival. Attacks against governmental authorities occurred across 20 states. These incidents occurred in Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz. The number of states is on par with most months of 2021.
Just two regional leaders of the major criminal organizations were captured by authorities during June. This number is on par with most months of 2019 and 2020. There were also several cases in which corrupt government officials were arrested on various charges.
There were 46 street battles between sicarios (gunmen) of rival organizations, and between Mexican authorities and cartel gunmen reported during June. This figure is the highest since March. These battles occurred across 15 states (Chihuahua, Durango, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas).
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. There are continued reports of gunmen robbing and kidnapping travelers along Highways 85 and 85D between Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo. These crimes appear to be concentrated where steep grades on the Paso de Mamulique force vehicles to slow down. Also, U.S. media indicated recently that more than 50 U.S. nationals had been reported missing while traveling along this route thus far in 2021.
Homicide data for June is not yet available. However, according to data published by the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB), the previous month (May) logged the highest number of homicides during the term of López Obrador, with 2595 felony homicides reported. This figure is only exceeded by the 2630 killed in July of 2018, which was the highest on record. In contrast, the total number of homicides in June (4024) is the highest on record.
There were at least 15 fatal extortion-related attacks reported by the media during June, resulting in 24 fatalities. These figures are on par with most months of 2020 and 2021. These incidents occurred across Chihuahua (2 incidents), Guanajuato (2 incidents), Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tabasco, and Veracruz (6 incidents).
Official data released by SEGOB indicates that the number of reported kidnappings is 32% higher this year when compared to January through May of last year. The states with the highest per capita kidnapping rates are Baja California, Chihuahua, Colima, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, and Zacatecas. With regard to June, the media reported the disruption of two kidnapping operations in Tabasco and Veracruz.
As always, there are numerous reports of robberies across most areas of the country. In some cases, these incidents involve cargo theft. Gunmen hijacked two trucks transporting ammunition from the Aguila munitions factory in San Luis de la Paz in Guanajuato, which was en route to the civilian market in the United States. The lost shipment contained 7.4 million rounds of ammunition, including thousands of rounds for AR-15 rifles. Many of the munitions were later recovered from a trailer that had collapsed due to the excessive overloading along a street.
There were notable increases in felony homicides and attacks on public venues. There were at least 52 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during May. This figure is a slight drop from April, but still above most months of 2020 and early 2021. However, the number of assassinations of government and party officials was relatively high. There were six such incidents reported this month.
There were also at least 20 incidents in which assailants either attempted to assassinate political leaders or fire on their residences or vehicles or were temporarily kidnapped.
There were also several attacks directed at fixed targets. In one case, shots were fired at a prison in Ecatepec, Edomex. Also, students with the Escuela Normal Rural Mactumatzá (normalistas) burned several police vehicles, hijacked a Pemex truck, and set fire to the municipal palace in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas.
Mexican federal authorities reported the capture of six regional leaders of the major cartels during May. This number is similar to the monthly average for 2020 but higher than the previous several months.
Mexican authorities reported the seizure of weapons, munitions, and tactical equipment at two sites in Chihuahua and Jalisco. Also, two armored vehicles were seized in Teocaltiche, Jalisco.
At least 35 street battles were reported during May. This figure is slightly lower than April but similar to most months of 2020. These battles occurred in 11 states (Aguascalientes, Edomex, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz). Several drones carrying Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were deployed during a battle between rivals organizations in southern Michoacán.
Media reports indicate that at least 106 bodies were left in groups across 41 sites during May. These collections of victims’ bodies are usually the result of kidnap-execution by rival cartels. Both of these figures are lower than the average of 2020 and 2021. Overall, these mass deposits were located across 16 states (Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz).
Frustrated residents continue to utilize vigilante justice in an attempt to stem the tide of organized crime in their communities. There have been 800 documented cases of vigilantism reported across Mexico since 2012. While these have occurred in more than 20 states, the vast majority have occurred in Edomex, Guanajuato, Puebla, and Veracruz.
There were nine fatal extortion-related incidents reported during May, resulting in eleven fatalities. This figure is the highest since December 2020. These incidents occurred in Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Tabasco, and Veracruz). The victims included the owners or employees of small stores, restaurants, bars, and a video game arcade.
Mexican authorities reported the disruption of two kidnapping operations this month. The figure is similar to the previous 15 months. The media has also reported a notable increase in the number of women being kidnapped and murdered across Mexico. In a pattern similar to that of Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua), it appears that the victims are being targeted as a part of sexual-related crimes.
Trucks transporting commercial cargo and fuel continue to be targeted by organized crime groups. There are no official figures for May yet, but the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP) reports that there were more than 3200 robberies of travelers or transport across Mexico during April, and 21% of these occurred on commercial cargo vehicles. Also, 63% of these robberies involved violence. The final numbers for May will likely be similar.
There were at least 54 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during April. This figure is the highest since March 2020. Among these incidents, there were a relatively high number of assassinations. There were eight such incidents reported in April. This follows the twelve assassinations which occurred in March. There were also several incidents in which assailants either attempted to assassinate political leaders, or they fired on their residences or vehicles. At least 42 soldiers, marines, or police officers were killed in attacks this month. Eleven state police patrols were attacked in Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo Léon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.
Attacks against authorities occurred across 15 states, and this figure is on par with most months of 2020, but lower than the previous month. The states impacted this month were Baja California, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. The majority of the incidents occurred in Guanajuato.
Authorities reported the capture of three regional leaders of the major criminal organizations during April. This figure is similar to the average of the previous 12 months. There were also numerous cases in which government officials were arrested or charged with a variety of crimes, mostly relating to organized crime.
Authorities reported the seizure of weapons and munitions caches at two locations in Jalisco and Sonora. Authorities recovered seven improvised explosive devices, which appear to be designed to operate with the aid of drones.
There were 42 street battles reported during April. This figure is lower than March, but higher than the monthly average for 2020. These incidents occurred in 14 states (Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz). In one incident, sicarios utilized several improvised up-armored vehicles (locally known as “monstruos”) during battles in Tocumbo and Cotija, Michoacán.
Overland travel in many rural areas of Mexico should be considered hazardous. There are continued reports of armed robberies and other attacks along highways in Puebla, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. There were several assaults on travelers along Highway 185 near Acayucan, Veracruz. Robbers have been assaulting travelers on the international bridge between Reynosa (Tamaulipas) and Pharr (Texas).
The Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) reported 2505 felony homicides during March, which is the highest since August 2020 (see Figure 3). Data for April will be available later this month. Organized crime groups continue to attack people in ostensibly civilian venues such as restaurants, bars, shopping areas, and other social events. There have been more than 570 intentional attacks on the patrons of such businesses across Mexico since January 2019, resulting in the deaths of at least 1282 people. In these attacks, gunmen typically open fire with the intention of killing as many patrons as possible. With regard to April, there were 10 such attacks reported by the media in Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Sonora, Veracruz. These incidents resulted in 25 fatalities. The number of incidents and fatalities are both about half of what occurred during March.
There were seven cases of fatal attacks related to extortion operations during April, resulting in 10 fatalities. The number of attacks and the number of victims are similar to the previous two months. These include owners and employees of two restaurants, a pharmacy, a small store, and several automotive repair shops.
During April, authorities reported the disruption of five kidnapping operations in Puebla and Veracruz (4 operations). However, in addition to these operations, there were numerous reports of police rescues of kidnap victims.
The total number of reported robberies has increased slightly since the beginning of the year. A radioactive sample of Iridium-192 was stolen in Teoloyucan, Edomex. The Coordinación Nacional de Protección Civil (CNPC) issued a nationwide alert, and the material was eventually recovered by authorities. There were multiple robberies of numerous pharmacies and large stores (e.g., Bodega Aurrerá, Coppel, Elektra, Soriana, etc.) in Veracruz. At least three banks were robbed in Oaxaca and Veracruz. Bank customers were robbed in at least nine separate incidents in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz.
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