Mexico Intelligence News Summary


Mexico Intelligence News Summary

SUMMARY

Analysis of several measures across many areas of Mexico this month indicates a continued deterioration of public safety. While the number of attacks on governmental authorities was steady this month, there was a slight increase in assassinations of public officials. These incidents appear to be related to the current election cycle. Attacks on public venues and the prevalence of other violence, as well as extortion-related attacks this month, continue to be elevated.

 

There were several noteworthy news events this month. In one case, on June 20 sicarios (cartel gunmen) entered a church and murdered two Jesuit priests in Cerocahui, Chihuahua. The victims were active in supporting the rights of indigenous communities in the Sierra Tarahumara. Following the incident, their bodies were then removed from the church by the gunmen but were recovered later. This particular area has been the site of intense conflict between the Sinaloa Cartel and La Línea (the leading faction of the Juárez Cartel). There were numerous rolling battles reported this month. In one incident, the vehicles of at least ten bystanders were struck by gunfire during a prolonged battle between the army and the Cártel del Noreste (CDN) in northwest Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. There are also reports that the soldiers shot and killed three sicarios after they had surrendered. As a result, nearby residents threw stones and other objects at the soldiers, who returned indirect fire.

 

Also of significant interest is that Alejandro Moreno, the national leader of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), announced that PRI will propose a reform to the Federal Weapons Law to make it easier for individuals to have access to certain firearms to defend themselves from insecurity in their communities. He argued that despite the fact that the primary concern of Mexicans is insecurity, the Morena government does not have any serious security plan. Finally, he stated that “in the absence of a State that takes care of Mexicans, let the criminals know that the people are going to defend themselves.”

 

There were at least 46 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during June. This figure is a slight drop from May but still above most months of 2021. However, the number of assassinations of government and party officials was relatively high. There were seven such incidents reported this month.

 

Twenty-six soldiers, marines, or police officers were killed in attacks this month. Among these was the municipal chief of police, who was gunned down outside his home in Villa de Álvarez, Colima. Two officials with the Fiscalía General del Estado de Guerrero (FGE) were gunned down in Chilpancingo, Guerrero. One of the victims had been involved with the investigation of the disappearance of the 43 normalistas (students) in Ayotzinapa in 2014.

 

Four military patrols were attacked in Jalisco, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. Just one patrol of the Guardia Nacional was reportedly attacked this month. The incident occurred in Marquelia, Guerrero. Six state police patrols were attacked across Jalisco, Nuevo Léon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas (3 incidents). Four municipal police patrols were attacked in Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Veracruz (2 incidents).

 

Numerous corrupt political leaders and police officers were also arrested on various charges. For example, a former federal deputy was arrested for hiring a sicario to kill his ex-wife in Puebla during May. He was also a former gubernatorial candidate (PRI party). A delegate of the Instituto Catastral del Estado de Oaxaca (ICEO) was charged for the murder of a medic in Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca. The former mayor of Choix, Sinaloa was arrested while attempting to smuggle a large quantity of cash through a security checkpoint in Sinaloa. The municipal chief of police was forced to resign following allegations that he had direct ties with the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) in Ameca, Jalisco.

 

At least 36 street battles were reported during June. This figure is slightly lower than May but similar to most months of late 2021 and 2022. These battles occurred in 12 states (Chiapas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). In one incident, ten sicarios were killed during a battle with authorities in El Salto, Jalisco.

 

Data published by the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) indicates that there were 2432 felony homicides reported during May. The number of felony homicides has not yet been reported for June. However, estimates provided by the media suggest it will be the highest number for any month in 2022. So far this year, the highest number of felony homicides have occurred in Guanajuato (ranked 1st), Michoacán (2nd), Edomex (3rd), Baja California (4th), Jalisco (5th), and (Sonora (6th).

 

There were numerous attacks on civilians in public venues such as restaurants, bars, shopping areas, markets, and repair shops. There were 14 such incidents in June, resulting in 24 fatalities. The number of distinct incidents was lower than in May. However, the number of fatalities is on par with most months of 2021. These attacks occurred across 11 states (Chihuahua, Edomex, Guerrero, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Veracruz, and Zacatecas).

 

Media reports indicate that at least 194 bodies were left in groups across 70 sites during June. These collections of victims’ bodies are usually the result of kidnap-execution by rival cartels. Both of these figures are higher than the previous month. Overall, these mass deposits were located across 19 states.

 

There were eight fatal extortion-related incidents reported during June, resulting in 17 fatalities. This figure matches the previous month but is higher than the average for 2021. These incidents occurred in Guanajuato (2 incidents), Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca (3 incidents), and Puebla. The victims included the owners or employees of small stores, restaurants, bars, and production/distribution companies.

 

Mexican authorities reported the disruption of one kidnapping operation this month in Veracruz. The figure is similar to the previous 15 months. 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 June yet, but the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP) reports that there were more than 3100 robberies of travelers or transport across Mexico during May, and 22% of these occurred on commercial cargo vehicles. Also, 63% of these robberies involved violence. The final numbers for June will likely be similar.

SUMMARY

Most public safety measures indicate that the levels of insecurity during May remain elevated compared to most of the previous 12 months. For example, attacks on governmental authorities remained relatively high this month, although the frequency of reported battles declined somewhat. The number of attacks on civilians in public venues, as well as the number of fatalities in these attacks both, increased this month. Also, the number of fatal extortion-related attacks increased in May, as did the number of fatalities. This corresponds with an increase in the total number of extortion cases reported to authorities since early 2022. Finally, while armed robbery is prevalent across most areas of the country, the trend has been steady since mid-2020.

 

There were 49 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during the month of May. The number of incidents is lower than in April but still the second-highest since October 2021. Of these attacks, there were six assassinations of current or former political leaders. Additionally, at least 29 police officers or military personnel were killed this month, a figure that is similar to the previous four months. There were also several assaults on fixed targets. In one case, assailants attacked a state police station in Tijuana, Baja California. No injuries were reported, but the assailants set fire to three patrol vehicles.

 

Several law enforcement or government officials were arrested or charged for a variety of crimes. In one case, a mayor was detained for the homicide of the municipal chief of police in Acatlán de Osorio, Puebla. Twenty-four municipal police officers were also arrested for the chief's assassination in April. Indeed, the media reported that at least 40 municipal police officers had been arrested for various crimes thus far in 2022 in several municipalities of Puebla. Two state government officials were arrested on money laundering charges in Puebla.

 

During May, there were 37 battles between authorities and sicarios or rival criminal organizations. This number was lower than the previous two months. These incidents occurred across 17 states, the highest since March 2021.

 

According to the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP), the number of felony homicides reported during April was 2146. The data for May is not yet available, but it will likely come out near the previous two months, which is higher than the early months of 2022. However, preliminary data in Chihuahua indicates that May was the most violent month thus far in 2022. Similar reports have come out of Puebla. Across Mexico, many of the victims were those who had been kidnapped and murdered. Authorities encountered the remains of 169 victims in groups during May. These discoveries were located at 61 sites across 15 states. The number of such victims was the lowest since October 2021 but remained elevated nonetheless.

 

Over the last few months, there has been a slight increase in fatalities associated with attacks on public venues. This month 57 people were killed in 23 separate attacks across 11 states (Colima, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, and Veracruz). The number of incidents was similar to the early months of 2022, but the number of victims was considerably higher than the monthly average for 2021. These incidents occurred in several bars, restaurants, funeral services, and other public events.

 

There were 11 extortion-related incidents that produced fatalities this month, resulting in 17 fatalities. The number of incidents is the highest since October 2021, and the number of fatalities has been the highest since June 2021. These incidents occurred in seven states; Chihuahua, Colima, Edomex (2 incidents), Guanajuato, Oaxaca (2 incidents), Puebla (2 incidents), and Veracruz (2 incidents).

 

Mexican authorities reported the disruption of two kidnapping rings this month, a figure that is slightly lower than the previous several months, but it is still on par with the monthly average for 2021. These groups were operating in Chihuahua and Puebla. Kidnap victims were also rescued in several additional incidents.

 

There were numerous instances of armed robbery across the country this month. Trucks transporting cargo were robbed in several states. In one incident, DJI México reported that one of their trucks transporting 300 drones was hijacked. Organized criminal groups have utilized drones for surveillance during battles, and these stolen devices may be intended for the same purpose.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Data for April indicates a further deterioration in public safety across many areas of the country. Each of the key measures showed an increase this month, including the number of attacks directed against governmental authorities, major street battles, attacks on civilians in public venues, and reported victims of other violence. From a regional standpoint, there appears to be a notable surge in criminal activity in Colima, Morelos, Oaxaca, Sonora, and Zacatecas, while conditions have improved somewhat in Guerrero and Tamaulipas. Elevated levels of crime have maintained in Baja California, Chihuahua, Michoacán, Puebla, Sinaloa, and Veracruz.

 

The media reported 59 attacks directed against governmental entities during April. This figure is the highest since November 2019.

Five of the attacks reported during April involved the assassination of politicians and party leaders. Five military patrols were attacked in Baja California, Jalisco (2 incidents), Sonora, and Zacatecas. Thirteen state police patrols were attacked this month across Chihuahua, Jalisco, Michoacán, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, and Zacatecas. Furthermore, at least 34 police officers or military personnel were killed this month. This is the highest number of fatalities since April 2021.

 

The media reported 57 battles between rival criminal groups or with authorities during April. This figure is the highest since July 2021. These incidents occurred in 16 states (Chiapas, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). The number of states impacted was the highest since March 2021.

 

Highway robberies and armed assaults continue to plague several states including Colima, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas. Robberies and assaults were also reported on passenger buses this month. Numerous incidents were reported in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz.

 

According to monthly crime data published by the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB), there were 2186 felony homicides reported during March. This is the highest number since October 2021. Furthermore, media reports indicate that the bodies of at least 286 victims were discovered at 104 different locations across 21 states. The number of victims is the highest since June 2020 and about 147% higher than the average of the last twelve months. The number of states impacted was the highest since July 2021, while the number of distinct sites was the highest since February 2019.

 

There was an increase in the number of attacks on civilians in public venues such as bars, restaurants, shopping areas, and public events this month. Eighteen attacks were reported across ten states, resulting in 43 fatalities. The number of fatalities is the highest since October 2021. These incidents occurred in Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Zacatecas.

 

Businesses and individuals continue to be subjected to extortion demands, and in many cases, these result in fatalities. Official data from SEGOB indicates an increase in reported cases since the beginning of the year. The media also reported that there were six fatal extortion-related incidents during April, resulting in six fatalities. Undoubtedly more such incidents occurred but were not picked up by the media. Of those reported, these occurred in Oaxaca (2 incidents) and Veracruz (4 incidents). The number of incidents is the highest since January 2022. The victims included owners and employees of several restaurants, bars, and shopkeepers.

 

The official number of reported robberies is not yet available for April. However, data from the Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) indicates that robberies increased 112% between February and March.

 

Bank customers continue to be robbed with high frequency in or near banks in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz.

 

End

There was an apparent improvement in several measures of public safety this month when compared to most months of 2021. There was a reduction in attacks on governmental authorities, major battles, attacks on public venues, and other indices of homicide and violence. However, the number of fatal extortion attacks did not diminish, and reported extortion cases and robberies appear to be on a slight upswing. Furthermore, there were numerous reports of armed robberies of travelers, a pattern which is common during the holiday season.

 

There were at least 35 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during December. This figure is the lowest since July. Of significance was a slight increase in assassinations over previous months. There were six such incidents reported in December. 

 

Four army patrols were attacked in Jalisco, Tamaulipas (2 incidents), and Zacatecas. In one incident, two soldiers were killed during an attack in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

 

There were 30 street battles reported during December. This figure is the lowest since November 2020. These incidents occurred in 15 states, which matches the average for 2021. The states impacted were Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Edomex, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas. The media also reported that sicarios detonated at least one drone equipped with an improvised explosive device (Air-borne IED) during a battle with the Guardia Nacional in Michoacán.

 

Overland travel in many rural areas of Mexico should be considered hazardous. There are continued reports of kidnappings of travelers along Highway 85/85D between Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas) and Monterrey (Nuevo Léon). Numerous incidents occurred along this route in early December and again during the last week of the month. There were also several reports of robberies along Highway 150/150D between Mexico City and Puebla. The Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) also reported an increase in highway robberies in Jalisco compared to the previous year.

 

The Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) reported 2144 felony homicides during November, which is the lowest number since February 2018 (see Figure 3). Data for December will be available later this month. Organized crime groups continue to attack people in ostensibly civilian venues such as restaurants, bars, shopping areas, funerals, and other social events. There have been more than 706 intentional attacks on the patrons of such businesses across Mexico in the last three years, resulting in the deaths of at least 1556 people. In these attacks, gunmen typically open fire with the intention of killing as many patrons as possible, sometimes using fragmentation grenades in the attacks.  

 

During December the bodies of at least 176 victims were left in mass deposits. While these bodies were located at 62 different sites, the majority were in Veracruz. In total, the sites were located across 17 states (Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). At least 24 people were decapitated or dismembered this month across six states (Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, and Veracruz). 

 

There were seven cases of fatal attacks related to extortion operations during December, resulting in 11 fatalities. The number of attacks and the number of victims are close to the average for 2021.

 

During December, authorities reported the disruption of two kidnapping operations in Puebla and Veracruz. This figure is slightly lower than the average for 2021. However, in addition to these operations, there were numerous reports of police rescues of kidnap victims.

 

While official crime data is not yet available for November, data released by the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP) showed an increase in three measures related to organized crime (i.e., felony homicide, extortion, and narcomenudeo) during October. The data also showed an increase in sexual assault and domestic violence. Furthermore, Mexican authorities have expanded law enforcement operations in a number of states. For example, due to losses in police officers, the Guardia Nacional will expand responsibility for law enforcement in Zacatecas. The Guardia Nacional will also install a base in the alcaldía Azcapotzalco of Mexico City due to the increased violence in that area.

 

There were at least 39 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during November. This figure is lower than the previous two months but higher than the average for 2020. There were four assassinations of government, and party officials reported this month.

 

Twenty-eight police officers or military personnel were killed in attacks this month. Seven military patrols were attacked in Guerrero, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. One patrol of the Guardia Nacional was attacked in Valparaíso, Zacatecas. Seven state police patrols were attacked in Coahuila, Guanajuato, Morelos, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. These incidents resulted in two law enforcement fatalities. In another incident, the bodies of three Zacatecas police officers were found in Crisóstomos, Aguascalientes. Seven municipal police patrols were attacked in Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Nuevo León, and Puebla. Seven police officers were killed in these attacks. Not surprisingly, the data from this month corresponds closely to the overall pattern of fatalities associated with different jurisdictional levels of law enforcement. Since the onset of the “drug war” in 2006, higher fatalities are typically associated with attacks on municipal and state police patrols, while fatalities for attacked federal and military patrols are considerably lower due primarily to better training and equipment (e.g., vehicle armor, more powerful arsenal, etc.).

 

Several fixed targets were also attacked this month. For example, as many as 80 sicarios (cartel gunmen) stormed the municipal palaces in Ahualulco and Mexquitic de Carmona, San Luis Potosí. They damaged the facilities, stole items, and departed. Sicarios also opened fire on the municipal palace in Tepetongo, Zacatecas. The incident occurred just hours after President López Obrador had visited the site.

 

There were several cases in which corrupt government officials were arrested on various charges. For example, five members of the Guardia Nacional and a former member were arrested on kidnapping and extortion charges in Cozumel, Quintana Roo. Five municipal police officers were arrested for homicide and armed robbery in Guadalajara, Jalisco. A recently elected municipal official was arrested on homicide charges related to the murder of a local reporter in Ixtaczoquitlán, Veracruz. A municipal police commander was charged with torture and robbery in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. State police arrested three municipal police officers for murdering their female coworker in San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí. Municipal police officers killed three agents of the Fiscalía de Puebla in Tecamachalco. Reports indicate the state officials ignored a demand to inspect their vehicle. In response to the incident, the chief of police and 12 municipal officers were detained, and the mayor turned control of the municipality over to state authorities.

 

The media reported 19 attacks on civilians in public venues during November. This figure is lower than October but matches the average for 2021 overall. Thirty people were killed in such incidents this month. This figure is a bit lower than the average for the year. These incidents occurred across nine states (Baja California, Edomex, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, and Veracruz).

 

There were at least eight fatal extortion-related attacks reported by the media during November, resulting in eight fatalities. Both these figures are on par with most months of 2020 and 2021. These incidents occurred across Chihuahua (3 incidents), Guanajuato, and Veracruz (4 incidents). The media reported the disruption of one kidnapping operation in Veracruz during November. However, in other cases, police were able to rescue various individuals.

 

As always, there are numerous reports of robberies across most areas of the country. In some cases, these incidents involve cargo theft. Municipal police also recovered a Liverpool truck that had been hijacked in Puebla. Three accused hijackers were also detained. Municipal police recovered a stolen trailer in San Martín Texmelucan, Puebla.

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