Official figures reveal that narco-violence made 2017 the deadliest year in Mexico's modern history. The grim total surpassed that of 2011, when the militarized drug war of then-President Felipe Calderón led to 22,409 homicides. A total of 23,101 homicide investigations were opened in the first 11 months of 2017, according to figures published Dec. 22 by the Governance Ministry, which has been tracking the yearly kill count back to 1997.
An estimated 200,000 have been killed in Mexico since Calderón mobilized the army to fight the cartels. A controversial Internal Security Law, initially intended to pull the military out of drug enforcement but actually giving the military command over police forces in certain circumstances, was signed into law by President Enrique Peña Nieto on Dec. 21. However, noting the outcry from rights advocates, Peña Nieto said he would wait for the Supreme Court to rule on its constitutionality before enacting it.
Just as the 2017 figures were released, grisly headlines were reported from the tourist resort of Los Cabos on the Baja California peninsula, where the bodies of six men were found hanging from three different bridges around the town.
An arrest was also announced in the murder of journalist Miroslava Breach—one of at least 11 journalists killed by presumed cartel assassins in 2017. Authorities in Chihuahua state described suspect Juan Carlos Moreno Ochoa as "intellectual author" of the Breach murder. He is allegedly a member of Los Salazar gang, a faction of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel.
The International Press Institute actually counts 14 journalists killed in Mexico over the past year. It's year-end report names Mexico as the world's most dangerous country for journalists in 2017, edging out Iraq and Syria.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, likely candidate in the 2018 presidential election with the left-populist Morena and Encuentro Social parties, has called for opening a "dialogue" wth the cartels to "end the war and guarantee peace."