Mexico Releases Latest Murder Numbers: The "Cockroach Effect"

Mexico has released its 2011 murder statistics for January through August. Murders are down in Juarez, the border city in Chihuahua, which has been known as the most violent area in Mexico.

While it remains exceedingly bloody, Juarez is far safer than it was in 2010: with 1,065 murders through August, it is on pace for just under 1,600 murders, a murder rate of roughly 120 per 100,000 residents. In 2010, the city registered some 3,000 murders and a murder rate of roughly 250 per 100,000.

Murders are also down in Baja California Norte, home to Tijuana and Mexicali. On the other hand, murders are up in Guerrero, especially Acapulco. [More...]

Another area with increased murders: Nuevo Leon, where the Zetas have been battling the Gulf Cartel, and Monterrey in particular.

What's it all mean? The Calderon Government's mantra that the vast majority of the violence is limited to a few areas, like Tijuana and Juarez, is not holding up.

The Calderon government has long responded to critics by pointing out the violence is concentrated in a relatively small number of areas, Tijuana and Juarez prominently among them. However, even as the violence drops in some of these hot spots, it is more than balanced by the increases in formerly tranquil oases like Monterrey.

Which leads to "the cockroach effect" and warrants caution about flooding particular areas with police as crime rises:

[The]...cockroach effect... holds that the government cracking down in one region will, at best, lead to the criminal actors scurrying to other locales. As they set up shop in their new residence, the criminal exiles are no less violent than before, which means that nationwide impact of flooding a specific area with law enforcement could be negative, even with a positive local impact.

The war on drugs, in Mexico like the U.S., is a failure. Yet we keep throwing vast amounts of money and resources into it. It's time for other measures.

< HAMP'd | 87 Year Old Busted With 228 Pounds of Cocaine >
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    .....so these are just the murders (none / 0) (#1)
    by Fabian on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 04:30:59 PM EST
    where they find bodies as opposed to the disappeared people.

    I'd like to see a complete violent crime study, since the trends of all violent crime should be expected to correlate roughly to the murder rate IF they are being committed by the same actors.

    We know rape and sexual assault are under reported here.  In Mexico, I'd expect the ACTUAL number of crimes committed to be under reported in corrupt regions.  So...a study comparing all violent crimes plus a survey on what percentage of those crimes are actually reported, let along investigated or prosecuted.

    Being able to trust in the justice system is a prerequisite for a civilized, orderly society.  They've been trying to establish an effective justice system in Afghanistan for exactly that reason.  If Mexico lacks a reliable, effective, ethical justice system, then it reflects badly on the society and government as a whole.

    Site Violator! (none / 0) (#3)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 06:38:02 AM EST