2009: Mexico’s Bloodiest Year of the Decade

2009: Mexico

In 2009, Mexico experienced its most violent and dangerous year of the past decade with a homicide count of at least 7,724, a toll largely attributable to the government’s offensive against drug traffickers and the turf wars being waged between the rival cartels themselves.

This staggering figure, taken together with statistics from previous years, reveals that 16,205 people have been killed in these conflicts since President Felipe Calderon took office in December of 2006, according to statistics from El Universal.

Over the past five years, approximately 19,785 people have died at the hands of organized crime in Mexico, primarily in the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Baja California, Durango, Michoacán and Guerrero. Only the state of Yucatán has been spared from drug-related executions.

In 2005, 1,537 people were assassinated, an average of 4.2 each day. In 2006, 2,221 people were killed, an average of six per day. In 2007, 2,673 people were killed, an average of 7.3 a day. And in 2008, 5,630 people were killed, an average of 15.4 day.

In 2009, the disintegrating security situation led to 842 executions in December alone, making this past month the most violent Mexico has seen in the past five years.

In its effort to combat the organized gangs, Mexico’s federal government has been deploying an average of 48,750 soldiers each month to fight in the war against drug trafficking. But the surge in troop levels has not deterred or impeded the cartels’ operations. At least 3,250 homicides took place in the state of Chihuahua alone this past year, the majority of which took place in Ciudad Juárez.

In the states with the highest levels of violence, entire villages have been held at gunpoint, and many inhabitants have been forced to temporarily flee their homes.

Revenge killings or kidnappings of civilians who confronted or reported criminals was another major characteristic of 2009.

Reports of kidnappings skyrocketed in 2009, averaging about 111 per month, according to statistics from the National Security System.

Attorney General Arturo Chavez said that the fight against organized crime is far from over, and that the country had a long and difficult road ahead of it. The outlook for 2010, it seems, does not look much brighter than the previous year.

Silvia Otero and correspondents contributed reporting.

Translation: Ryan Croken.

Ryan Croken is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago. His essays and book reviews have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Z Magazine and ReligionDispatches.org. He can be reached at ryan.croken@gmail.com.