MEXICO CITY (AP) — Homicides in Mexico rose by 22 percent in 2016, the government reported Friday, the highest rate of increase since the height of the drug war.
Official statistics released by the Interior Department show that Mexico had 20,789 homicides in 2016, compared to 17,034 in 2015.
Some states saw murders rise by dizzying levels. Homicides in the Pacific coast state of Colima more than tripled, and in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz they more than doubled.
Murders rose by 42 percent in the border state of Baja California, 30 percent in the border state of Chihuahua and 65 percent in the western state of Michoacan.
Security analyst Alejandro Hope said Friday the national rate of increase is the highest since 2010, when murders rose by 28 percent nationwide from 2009 levels.
“It could be a variety of things. It could involve the spreading fragmentation of criminal groups, it could the reactivation of conflicts between Sinaloa (cartel) and others, it could be the expansion of the Jalisco cartel,” Hope said.
Hope also said that the governorship elections held in 12 of Mexico’s 31 states in 2016 may have played a role. “There is a transition period, where the outgoing state police chiefs are no longer credible for the criminals,” either to make deals with them or crack down on the gangs.
Homicides largely fueled by drug violence peaked at 22,852 in 2011, and then declined, falling to 15,653 in 2014.