U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis From 2001-2009

NCJ Number
David A. Shirk
Date Published
January 2010
20 pages
This report presents an overview of the trends found in available data on drug-related killings in Mexico, and it offers opinions about the causes of the violence and the effectiveness of recent efforts to combat organized crime.
There are a number of trends evident in the available data on drug-related violence in Mexico. First, drug-related violence has been increasing since 2005, with large increases especially in 2008 and 2009. This violence occurred in spite of - or some would argue as the result of - massive U.S. and Mexican government efforts to crack down on drug trafficking. Second, there are significant geographic dynamics in the distribution of violence, with the country's drug violence concentrated in a few key States considered to be critical zones of production and trafficking. Third, in the past year (2008), the impact of the violence was particularly felt by public officials, police, women, and minors under 18 years old. Fourth, of particular concern to U.S. officials and residents is the perceived cross-border "spill-over" of drug-related violence from Mexico, which is difficult to quantify and is outside the scope of this report. Expert analysts who have examined the cycles and trends, as well as the geographic distribution of the killings, have suggested that the violence is related to three factors: the fractionalization of organized crime groups, the changing structures of political-bureaucratic corruption, and recent government efforts to crack down on organized crime through military deployments and the disruption of the leadership of drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs). In addition, experts speculate that there may be larger macro-level factors that contribute to the violence, such as shrinking drug demand in the United States, falling drug prices, increased border interdiction, or increasing domestic demand in Mexico. 5 figures and 1 table