A municipality in Colima is now the most violent in Mexico and some distance ahead of second-worst Acapulco, reveals a new report on violent crime.
Tecomán tops the list of the 10 most violent municipalities and is one of three in that state: Manzanillo follows in third place and Colima in seventh, according to data compiled for the 2016 High Impact Crime study presented by the Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano (National Citizens’ Observatory).
The organization uses homicide, kidnapping and extortion rates to determine the rankings with the greatest weight given to homicides.
The only state where there are more municipalities in the top 10 is Guerrero with four. Two are in Michoacán and one in Baja California.
Tecomán’s incidence of high-impact crime was 102.4 per 100,000 residents while Acapulco’s was 76 per 100,000, Manzanillo’s 67.2 and Colima’s 55.8.
State of Colima Interior Secretary Arnoldo Ochoa González attributed the rise in violence to turf wars between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel, primarily over control of the port of Manzanillo although he added that other more local factors are also at play including a lack of values, addiction and family crises.
Ochoa also said that because Colima had the lowest population of any state in the country, outbreaks of violence have a greater impact on per-capita statistics.
The state is seen as strategically important to organized crime groups, primarily because of the port at Manzanillo, which facilitates the importation of marijuana, cocaine, synthetic drugs and chemical precursors.
According to seizure records from the Mexican Navy, the state’s port was one of two in the country responsible for the greatest transportation of cocaine and marijuana in 2016, the other being Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacán.
One response to that problem has been for Mexico’s marines to retake control of the country’s ports, which it did on June 17.
An analysis by InSight Crime, a foundation dedicated to the study of organized crime in the Americas, attributed that government decision to two trends.
Firstly, “the ports [in Mexico] are sieves through which all measures of contraband, drugs and weapons pass” and secondly, “the marines have become one of the most trustworthy institutions fighting criminal groups.”
However, the organization did also note that “militarization has yet to become a panacea for any of this country’s organized crime issues.”
A study by México Evalúa — a think tank that analyzes and evaluates the performance of government programs — found that while security had improved in the municipalities of Tecomán and Colima after President Peña Nieto introduced a new security strategy to fight crime in the country’s 50 most violent municipalities, violent crime actually increased in Manzanillo, reflected in its rise from 34th most violent to 10th.
Alberto Begné, Undersecretary for Crime Prevention in the federal Secretariat of the Interior, said the homicide rate in Colima made it comparable to the most violent Central American countries.
“Colima is a high-priority case. It was a peaceful state with good, acceptable rates of well-being and suddenly the rates shot up to extremely high levels that exceed the national average by far and place it at the level of Central American countries with the highest rates of violence.”
The deteriorating security situation even led authorities to deploy the Navy to patrol the streets of Manzanillo last month, some on foot.
However, a naval commander attributed the upsurge in violence to small-time drug dealing conflict rather than massive smuggling operations.
“In the homicides that are occurring, we note that there is a relationship between the victim and the aggressor. They let them into their houses and the murders take place there; in all these cases it is seen that they are connected to retail drug dealing.”
Last year was the most violent on record for Colima with 600 homicides, a 359% increase over the 167 recorded in 2015.
That figure equates to 81.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, almost five times Mexico’s national rate of 17, well above the figures for Honduras and Guatemala and not far off the 91.8 figure recorded for Venezuela in 2016.
Homicide numbers have been rising across the country, fueling fears that 2017 could be the most violent in Mexico’s history.