More Americans in Mexico are falling victim to a wave of drug violence, a change driven home by the recent killing of a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband who were gunned down after leaving a children’s birthday party, reports the Associated Press. The number of U.S. citizens killed in Mexico has more than doubled to 79 in 2009 from 35 in 2007, according to the U.S. State Department’s annual count.
Only some of the killings are specifically listed as “executions” or “drug-related,” but the increase in homicides appears to be related to drug battles. In Ciudad Juarez, the northern border city hardest hit by drug violence and where the consulate employee was killed, homicides of Americans rose to 23 in 2009 from two in 2007. The annual murder rate for the estimated 500,000 American citizens in Mexico at any one time has risen — but still remains lower than in some U.S. cities: about 15 per 100,000. Baltimore’s 2009 homicide rate was 37 per 100,000 residents. American deaths make up only a tiny fraction of Mexico’s 17,900 drug-related killings since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led drug war.