Mexico continues to grow more violent, logging more homicide cases in July than in any month on record, the Los Angeles Times reports. Prosecutors opened 2,599 homicide investigations — an average of 84 a day — last month, said Mexico’s national public security agency. In some of those cases, there were multiple victims. Killings have been rising steadily in Mexico since 2015 as increasingly fragmented criminal groups battle for control of drug trafficking routes and other illegal markets, such as stolen fuel and cargo. Many in Mexico say crime-fighting efforts are also partly to blame for the rising body count.
With U.S. backing, Mexico has gone to battle against the cartels, jailing drug users and drug runners, destroying opium and marijuana fields and sending thousands of armed soldiers into the streets. That may have weakened cartels, but it has opened the door for bloody infighting among splintered factions. Last year was Mexico’s most violent on record since the government began releasing crime statistics two decades ago, with 25,316 homicide investigations into 31,174 deaths. Mexico is on track to far surpass that this year. The 16,399 homicide cases opened in the first seven months of 2018 were a 14 percent increase over the same period last year. July’s total breaks the previous monthly record of 2,535 set in May. Mexico’s homicide rate is more than quadruple that of the United States. Scott Stewart of the Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor said Mexican authorities didn’t have any choice but to try to weaken the cartels. “You can’t let them get to the point where they can actually challenge the state,” he said. There is no doubt Mexico’s kingpin strategy of killing or arresting cartel bosses has had a destabilizing effect, he added. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto acknowledged this week that his administration’s drug war has, by some measures, failed.