Mexico’s Murder Rate Jumps by a Third to Record-Breaking 33,341 in 2018

January 24, 2019 Updated: January 24, 2019

Mexico’s homicide rate has jumped by a third in the last year, pushing it up into the top dozen most murderous countries in the world, with four people killed every hour.

It is the second year in a row that the homicide rate has broken previous records. Information from the Interior Ministry listed 33,341 murder cases last year, compared to 25,036 in 2017.

With Mexico’s population pushing 130 million, that brings the annual murder rate to around 25 murders per 100,000 people, in comparison to around five murders per 100,000 people in the United States.

The 33,341 cases do not include the category of “culpable homicide” which adds another 17,000 deaths.

Mexico’s rising death rate pushes it higher and for the first time this year it will be listed in the top 20 countries experiencing the highest homicide prevalence rates, according to the World Economic Forum.

The rise in murders is linked to drug cartel violence that has continued to rise despite the militarized crackdown that started 12 years ago.

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Forensic experts are seen at a crime scene where Mexican musician Willie, a member of the Sonora Tropicana band, was killed by armed men in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, on Jan. 18, 2019. (Ulises Ruiz/ AFP/Getty Images)

The state of Guanajuato that lies at the center of the county, has been hardest hit with turf wars between gangs pushing up the murder rate from 1,084 to 3,290 in just one year.

On the weekend, three gunmen shot to death seven people at a house in the Mexican resort of Cancún, a coastal city that has been hit by rising drug-related violence.

The shooting was a dispute between street-level drug dealers, reported The Associated Press.

A suspected gang leader who has been linked to the Jalisco cartel was behind the killings, according to police.

The Jalisco cartel is from the Pacific Coast and has been trying to take over illegal activities on the other side of the country in Cancún and other resorts to the south.

In a single day in August, eight bodies were found by Cancún police, strewn on the streets.

250 Human Skulls

About 70 miles away, the town of Playa del Carmen, sitting on the cruise ship routes, has grown with the tourist trade in recent years. But that growth has brought the gangs and drugs.

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Tourists at Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur State, Mexico, on March 8, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancún, tourism is Mexico’s third largest source of foreign exchange. (Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, seven people were killed in a bar shooting in the town.

On the other side of the country, another once tranquil coastal community on the Pacific,  Tecomán, has become the most dangerous place in Mexico with a murder rate of 172/100,000 last year.

Last year, a mass grave was found in central Mexico, with over 250 human skulls. The remains were most likely of victims of drug cartels over the years, according to authorities.

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A forensic expert holds a human skull found during a search operation in the Juarez Valley, Chihuahua State, Mexico, on Aug. 18, 2018. (Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images)

The grave, found in Veracruz State is thought to be the largest in Mexico. Mexico’s murder rate of 25 per 100,000 is still low compared to many other central and South American nations, according to World Bank data.

El Salvador had the highest murder rate in the world in 2016, at 84, with Honduras and Venezuela in second and third with 57 and 56 respectively.

Brazil, Guatemala, and Belize also make the top 10, along with Jamaica and South Africa.

Twelve journalists were killed in Mexico in 2018.

The murder rate in the United States is expected to drop in 2018, according to The New York Times report, after rising by almost a quarter between 2014 and 2016 and leveling off in 2017.

Mexico’s recently sworn-in president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pledged to overhaul Mexico’s approach to tackling drugs.

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