Drug-related violent deaths reached 12,394 in Mexico last year, according to a count released by the daily Milenio on Jan. 2. The account said this was an increase of 110 over 2011, but 264 less than in 2010, the most violent year of the Felipe Calderón presidency. (However, by the government's own figures, the total for 2012 was 12,903, and 15,273 for 2010.) For a fifth consecutive year, Chihuahua was the most violent state in the country, accounting for 18% of total deaths. Yet a Dec. 30 report on El Paso Inc notes the official number of murders in the violence-torn border city of Juárez dropped to about 800, down from a peak of 3,622 in 2010 that won the sobriquet "Murder City." The government of course takes credit, pointing to the jailing of gang leaders and social programs for at-risk youth. A Jan. 11 report on National Public Radio admits that may be part of the explanation, but says "word on the street" is that the long, bloody turf war is winding down because one side won: the interloping Sinaloa Cartel defeated the local and now heavily factionalized Juárez Cartel.
Mexico's new President Enrique Peña Nieto has promised a new security policy that ostensibly emphasizes fighting violence over counter-narcotics. While the previous administration boasted of capturing or killing 25 of 37 most wanted kingpins, the new government says it wants to focus on reducing the crimes of "homicide, extortion and kidnapping." (Small Wars Journal, Jan. 11)