Homicides in Mexico have reached a grisly milestone

cuernavaca mexico

Violence in Mexico has been on the rise in recent months, as fragmented criminal organizations clash around the country, competing with Mexican authorities and each other for control of illegal enterprises.

Data released by the Mexican government reveal that homicides, perhaps the most visible aspect of the country’s violence, reached an ugly milestone in July.

The 2,073 killings recorded that month were the most of any month since the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, entered office in December 2012, and it was the first time the country exceeded 2,000 homicides in a month since August 2011.

2011 was the bloodiest year in the six-year term of Filipe Calderon, Peña Nieto’s predecessor who launched a heavily militarized crackdown on drug cartels and criminal organizations throughout the country.

July’s total tops the previous high registered under Peña Nieto — the 1,895 homicides recorded in May this year, which were the most since he took office in December 2012.

Homicides in Mexico, January to July 2016

As noted by Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope, these numbers appear to be part of an upswing.

July’s homicide total was 26% more than what was recorded in the same month last year, while the 12,376 homicides in the January-July period this year were 16% more than the same period in 2015.

While some parts of Mexico have experienced more violence than others, the trend in homicides has been felt around the country.

“In July, 22 federal entities registered an increase in the number of victims and in many cases, the rate of increase was double digits,” Hope wrote at El Universal on August 22.

The spike in bloodshed has been most pronounced in the southeast state of Veracruz.

The 168 homicides recorded there in July were 68 more than in June, and more than three times than in the 55 recorded in February, the lowest number so far this year.

Veracruz’s 643 homicides in the first seven months of this year are more than the 615 registered for all of last year. The state’s governor, Javier Duarte, has been heavily criticized for allegations of corruption that have swirled around his administration as well as for violence against journalists that has taken place during his tenure.

The 132 homicide investigations and 168 victims are both the highest levels recorded since the state started keeping official records for them in 1997, according to Animal Politico.

Veracruz journalist killing murder Mexico homicides protest

West of Veracruz, the state of Michoacan had 187 homicides in July, more than double the 87 recorded in the same month last year, and the most the state has seen in almost a decade, according to El País.

Michoacan has been a intensely contested battleground for several years, as civilian-led (but often criminal-infiltrated) community groups fought criminal groups that ran roughshod over the state, while federal police and troops attempted to contain the violence.

Guerrero state, which borders Michoacan to the south, has seen some of the most elevated violence in the country, as criminal groups, fragmented by infighting and pressure from security forces, have struggled for control of the state’s lucrative drug production and trafficking areas.

Mexico cartel map

The 215 homicides in Guerrero were the most the state has seen since the end of 2012. Violence in Acapulco, a tourist mecca on Guerrero’s Pacific coast, has filled the morgues and dimmed the luster of a once idyllic oceanside getaway.

And in Colima, nestled next to Michoacan on the Pacific coast, the 345 homicides recorded through July this year were a huge jump from the 79 that occurred over the same period last year.

Colima, Mexico’s smallest state by population and size, is home to the country’s largest west coast port, Manzanillo, a vital outpost for any organization intending to smuggle drugs internationally.

Indeed, drug-related violence has helped drive up homicides around the country.

Homicides in Mexico by state in 2016

In Baja California, home to strategically valuable smuggling routes through Tijuana, homicides are up 34% this year. Earlier this year, it was reported that the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco New Generation cartel, Mexico’s two most powerful cartels, were fighting over Tijuana.

Turmoil within the Sinaloa cartel may have contributed to the rising violence in Chihuahua state, which borders Texas in north-central Mexico.

Reports earlier this year indicated that Rafael Caro Quintero, a top leader in what would become the Sinaloa cartel, but was jailed from 1985 to 2013, had emerged from the shadows and was making a play for control of the cartel

Caro Quintero has denied the ambitions attributed to him, but violence in the state has increased, rising more than 40% from January through July this year.

In Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua’s main US border crossing and a crown jewel of narco trafficking, July had the most homicides of any month since December 2013.

Juarez is far from the levels of violence it saw in 2010 and 2011, at the height of the cartel war for control of the city, but, as Hope notes, that violence is likely to continue until it reaches a level high enough to prompt a political response.

Across the country, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, infighting in the Zetas and Gulf cartels, as well as those two cartels’ clashes with each other, has driven violence to frightening levels. The 106 homicides there in July were 31 more than recorded in June. 


The Zetas, who broke from the Gulf cartel to form their own criminal organization, have been behind some of the worst atrocities in Mexico in recent years, including the killing of 72 helpless Central American migrants in 2010 and the torching of a casino in Monterrey in Nuevo Leon state (where homicides are up 52% this year) that left 52 people dead in 2011.

While organized-crime activity is an important factor driving the rise of violence in Mexico, the heavily fractured and opaque nature of the country’s criminal landscape make analyzing and combatting that activity hard.

The fact that violence has gone up in so many parts of Mexico — coupled with missteps and bad practices by authorities — makes it harder for the government to respond effectively. 

“State and local governments haven’t been doing their part, and the federal government, [the violence] is so widespread, their resources are spread very thin,” Hope told Insight Crime in June.

SEE ALSO: 5 days after being abducted at gunpoint, ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s son is reportedly free and unharmed

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New Placer County Safety Vehicles

New Placer County Safety Vehicles

New Placer County Safety Vehicles

New Placer County Safety Vehicles

I’m Ed Smith, a Loomis Personal Injury Attorney. Supervisors from Placer County approved an expenditure on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, for a purchase of $1.5 million for new vehicles to be used by county officials.

New Placer County Safety Vehicles syndicated from https://lawpallc.wordpress.com

Loomis September Event Calendar

Loomis September Event Calendar

Loomis September Event Calendar

Loomis September Event Calendar

I’m Ed Smith, a Loomis Personal Injury Attorney. There are many events to engage with friends and family in the Loomis area. So if you are coming from the bustling city of Sacramento or any other area searching for a temporary small town vibe, come visit Loomis in the month of September to enjoy the local entertainment events.

Loomis September Event Calendar syndicated from https://lawpallc.wordpress.com

The most hotly debated policing strategy of the last 20 years is far from finished

baltimore police

Calls to reform police departments have echoed across the country with renewed energy in recent years, as cities from New York and Chicago to Baltimore and Milwaukee face increasing pressure to police less aggressively while still keeping a lid on crime rates.

“Broken Windows,” the policing strategy which emphasizes pursuing smaller crimes as a means preventing more serious or violent ones, has received much of the blame for instances of police-related killings and racial profiling, and has largely fallen out of favor among the public and lawmakers alike.

But although criminal justice experts remain divided on whether the theory is actually an effective crime prevention strategy, they say it’s unlikely that “Broken Windows” is on its way out.

In the face of renewed criticism, politicians and police departments appear to be shying away rhetorically from the theory, but it’s unclear whether reforms within the departments reflect any significant strategic shift. 

During a press conference earlier in August announcing New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton’s resignation, his successor James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio touted a strategy termed “neighborhood policing,” and called for officers to spend less time in their cruisers and more time interacting with the communities they patrol.

That definition doesn’t differ much from the “Broken Windows” approach, according to Peter Moskos, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former police officer in Baltimore. “Broken Windows” policing has always demanded a high amount of community interaction as it targets neighborhood disorder. But to predominantly African-American neighborhoods already wary of police officers, the rhetorical shift may help reassure residents who fear aggressive police tactics.

“My guess is that because [O’Neill is] a Bratton protegé, I’m assuming he basically believes what Bratton does in terms of policing. If that’s true, he is going to use ‘neighborhood policing’ as his justification to keep doing ‘Broken Windows’ — by that name or a different name,” Moskos told Business Insider.

“To some extent those optics are important.”

bill bratton bill de blasio NYPD

Where did “Broken Windows” go astray

“Broken Windows” was first introduced in a 1982 Atlantic essay by George Kelling and James Q. Wilson. In the essay, Kelling and Wilson call for police to focus on quality-of-life violations and “order maintenance.” They post that preventing order-based crimes such as vandalism or public drinking prevents more serious or violent crimes from occurring by projecting an atmosphere of law and order.

Kelling has since argued that his theory has been misunderstood by many of the police departments that implemented it.

“Broken windows was never intended to be a high-arrest program,” he wrote last summer in Politico Magazine. “The goal is to reduce the level of disorder in public spaces so that citizens feel safe, are able to use them, and businesses thrive. Arrest of an offender is supposed to be a last resort — not the first.”

Instead, “Broken Windows” became the justification for “zero tolerance” policing for many major cities beginning in the 1990s. “Zero tolerance” is the tough-on-crime approach that equates success with arrests. New York, Chicago and other cities’ practice of “Stop and Frisk” is frequently associated with “Broken Windows” policing as well. 

“Broken Windows” was never intended by Kelling and Wilson to result in arrests at every minor infraction, Robert Worden, an associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Albany told Business Insider. 

For better or worse, that is what “Broken Windows” has come to mean for many police reform advocates and the public. 

A perfect storm for police violence

It’s questionable whether “Broken Windows” is relevant to the ongoing national debate about police violence.

Some criminal justice experts argue that eliminating the theory will do little to lessen the propensity of officer-related violence when lawmakers continue to fall back on policing, rather than political reform, to tackle crime. 

Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College sociologist and “Broken Windows” critic, said he has observed few substantial changes in American policing, despite two years of near-constant protests, criticism, and media scrutiny following the widely reported deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York in the summer of 2014. 

Even after the prolonged public outcry and a rhetorical shift from public officials away from “Broken Windows” policing, “egregious” police killings still regularly appear in news cycles, unlawful arrests continue to occur, and overall incarceration rates haven’t dropped in any meaningful way, Vitale told Business Insider.

Indeed, marijuana arrests in New York City have jumped by a third since last year, according to data published in July by the Police Reform Organizing Project, a police watchdog group. This despite widespread criticism of prosecuting those offenses, even from Brooklyn’s District Attorney Ken Thompson. 

Low-level marijuana arrest are a perfect recipe for instances of police violence, according to Vitale. A person being arrested for a such an offense in the city is highly likely to resent the police officer making the arrest. Should he or she resist, the officer will resort to force — a situation that would be entirely possible to avoid if lawmakers relaxed marijuana laws.

“Elected leaders have taken more and more social problems and turned them into police problems. The students don’t work? Let’s not hire more counselors or fund more disciplinary programs, let’s just flood the schools with cops. Methamphetamine use is on the increase? Let’s not open more drug treatment, let’s just massively expand anti-drug policing,” he said

“Then when the cops have interactions with these people, people resent it. And they resist sometimes. And those encounters escalate.”

‘Asking too much of police’

New York City Police officers (NYPD) stand outside a door to the New York Stock Exchange in New York's financial district February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

At issue in most communities that use “Broken Windows” policing is the amount of discretion it provides officers.

Kelling and Wilson’s theory admits there’s no “wholly satisfactory answer” to the question of racial profiling and excessive use of force. The best that can be hoped for is that “by their selection, training, and supervision, the police will be inculcated with a clear sense of the outer limit of their discretionary authority.”

Minor misbehavior incidents nearly always deserve education, reminders, or warnings instead of arrests, the University of Michigan’s David Thacher argued last year in a Marshall Project op-ed titled “Don’t End Broken Windows Policing, Fix It.”

“Even in the face of defiance they call for modest sanctions and restraints — citations, court summons and perhaps temporary detention of an unruly drunk on the street rather than a trip to the jail in a patrol car and a permanent misdemeanor record,” Thacher wrote.

But while criminal justice experts maintain the distinction, officers may not always know where the line is drawn.

“It is challenging to exercise that discretion in the right way. Officers that are very good at that, who have extremely good judgment, practice ‘Broken Windows’ policing effectively. Officers whose judgment is less well-developed or who work less at it make a hash of it,” Worden said. 

“[“Broken Windows”] is a fundamentally sound concept, but it can be challenging to implement properly,” he added.

Not that police departments haven’t tried — programs such as de-escalation, crisis intervention, and implicit bias training are being experimented with around the country. But Vitale said those efforts are futile when officers are still instructed to uphold two priorities that seem fundamentally at odds: combat crime aggressively and reduce use of force.

Hinging the success of the country’s leading crime-prevention theory to the judgment calls of individual officers is simply asking too much of police, he said.

“How do you train the police to simultaneously be ready to shoot at any time of a threat, and also to hold off shooting?” he said. “We have to quit expecting policing to be the solution to all of our problems.”

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The most hotly debated policing strategy of the last 20 years is far from finished syndicated from https://lawpallc.wordpress.com

Davis Double Parking Violation Law

Davis Double Parking Violation Law

Davis Double Parking Violation Law

Davis Double Parking Violation Law

I’m Ed Smith, a Davis Auto Accident Attorney. The California university town of Davis will be enforcing its law for violators that are found parked in two spaces during the lunch time hour. The purpose of the law is to reduce the congestion of traffic conditions and spaces for parking availability in order to welcome more visitors to the Downtown Davis area.

Davis Double Parking Violation Law syndicated from https://lawpallc.wordpress.com

UC Davis Video Game Therapy Project

UC Davis Video Game Therapy Project

UC Davis Video Game Therapy Project

UC Davis Video Game Therapy Project

I’m Ed Smith, a Davis Personal Injury Lawyer. A freshman from UC Davis has created a nonprofit project to assist individuals that are facing hard times to alleviate their stresses through video games. Video games can act as a virtual escape for players to take their minds from the real world and enjoy their very own personal worlds.

UC Davis Video Game Therapy Project syndicated from https://lawpallc.wordpress.com

Butte County West Nile Virus Reports

Butte County West Nile Virus Reports

Butte County West Nile Virus

Butte County West Nile Virus Reports

I’m Ed Smith, a Chico Personal Injury Lawyer. There has been a scary report announced by officials from Butte County stating that the West Nile Virus is considered to be boundless in the valley.

Butte County West Nile Virus Reports syndicated from https://lawpallc.wordpress.com