Zamora, Michoacán – where a lone gunman killed four people on Tuesday – was the most violent city in the world last year, according to a study by a Mexican non-governmental organization.
The next seven most violent cities in 2021 are also in Mexico, the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (CCSPJP) said in a report published earlier this year. A total of 18 Mexican cities were ranked in the top 50.
The CCSPJP, which only analyzes homicide data for cities with populations of 300,000 or more, said it was the fifth consecutive year that a Mexican city was the most violent in the world.
The metropolitan area of Zamora, a city in northwestern Michoacán, recorded 610 murders last year for a per capita murder rate of 196.6 per 100,000 people. The CCSPJP said the 2021 murder rate in Zamora was the second highest it had observed since first compiling its rankings in 2008. Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, had a higher rate in 2010 when the northern border city recorded 229 homicides per 100,000 people.
The violence continued in Zamora early this year when seven people were killed in an armed attack on a clandestine cantina on January 27. On Tuesday, a gunman went on a shooting spree in Zamora and the neighboring municipality of Jacona, killing a total of eight people at five different locations, according to state authorities. He was eventually killed by police.
Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, ranked as the second most violent city last year with 478 homicides for a per capita rate of 155.8. A councilor from Bácum, a municipality that neighbors Cajeme – the municipality where Ciudad Obregón is located – was shot dead in the city last week.
Ranking as the third most violent city with a total of 390 homicides for a per capita murder rate of 107.5 per 100,000 people was Zacatecas city, capital of one of Mexico’s most violent states. The United States Embassy issued a security alert for the state of Zacatecas in April due to the ongoing turf war between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.
The five other Mexican cities that made up the eight most violent cities last year, according to the CCSPJP, were Tijuana, Baja California, where there were 2,124 homicides for a per capita rate of 103.2 per 100,000 people; Celaya, Guanajuato, which recorded 747 homicides for a per capita rate of 100.9; Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, where 1,455 homicides were registered for a per capita rate of 95.8; Ensenada, Baja California, where there were 343 homicides for a per capita rate of 76.9; and Uruapan, Michoacán, which saw 263 homicides for a per capita rate of 73.4.
Celaya, where 10 people were killed in a massacre at a hotel and two adjoining bars last month, was the world’s most violent city in 2020, according to the CCSPJP. In terms of the total number of homicides, Tijuana was Mexico’s most violent city in terms of total numbers of homicides in 2021.
The only two non-Mexican cities among the 10 most violent were St. Louis, United States, and Kingston, Jamaica, which ranked ninth and 10 respectively. The other Mexican cities that ranked among the 50 most violent were Colima city (14th); Acapulco, Guerrero (16th); Cuernavaca, Morelos (18th); Irapuato, Guanajuato (21st); León, Guanajuato (22nd); Chihuahua city (30th); Morelia, Michoacán (34th); Cancún, Quintana Roo (40th); Culiacán, Sinaloa (43rd); and Guadalajara, Jalisco (47th).
No other country had more cities than Mexico on the list. Brazil ranked second with 11, the United States ranked third with seven and South Africa and Colombia both ranked fourth with four of the world’s 50 most violent cities each last year. The Mexican cities of Fresnillo, Manzanillo, Guaymas and Tecate had per capita murder rates above 100 per 100,000 people but didn’t make the list because their populations are below 300,000.
The CCSPJP said in its report that “Mexico has now been the global epicenter of homicidal urban violence for three years.”
“It’s not a coincidence but the result of the ‘hugs, not bullets’ policy implemented by the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador – a policy that consists of leaving criminal groups with almost complete freedom to murder, abduct people, extort and steal,” the NGO said.
Homicides across Mexico declined slightly last year but nevertheless exceeded 30,000 for the fourth consecutive year. There were 12,737 homicides in the first five months of 2022, the federal government reported Monday, putting the country on track to record more than 30,000 murders for a fifth consecutive year.
Mexico News Daily