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Crime and violence in Mexico – statistics & facts

Despite being one of the leading tourism destinations in the world, Mexico regularly makes international headlines due to widespread violence and organized crime. According to the Global Peace Index (GPI), Mexico ranks among the least peaceful countries in Latin America. Although internationally recognized as a country with a complex and high criminal activity, where drug trafficking and related crimes are commonplace, pettier crimes such as theft on the street or pickpocketing on public transportation are some of the most reported occurrences in Mexico, followed by fraud and extortion cases. Kidnapping, on the other hand, is one of the crimes against personal freedom that most afflicts the Mexican population. In 2018, Mexico was the Latin American nation with the highest number of kidnappings.

The perceived level of insecurity in Mexico has worsened in the past few years, with almost 76 percent of the adult population stating they did not feel safe where they lived. Baja California and Zacatecas, in particular, are among the Mexican states with the poorest peace levels. This feeling of insecurity directly affects the population's quality of life, as many people avoid performing basic outdoor activities due to fear of becoming a crime victim. For instance, 69 percent of Mexicans who participated in a survey did not allow underage children or teenagers to go out on their own.

Violence in Mexico is already considered an epidemic and it has significant repercussions on public health, specially when it comes to longevity and the overall life expectancy of the Mexican population. Annual murder rates stand at 13 intentional homicides committed per 100,000 inhabitants at the first half of 2021. The alarming rate of life-threatening crimes particularly affects women. In the past decade, Mexico registered an increasing number of femicides, the second highest in Latin America.

Violence is also a deterrent for economic growth. Crime does not simply increase people’s vulnerabilities and endangers lives; it also imposes a heavy burden on both public and private financial resources. In 2021, the cost of violence in Mexico amounted to a staggering 4.9 trillion Mexican pesos. This amount includes not only preventive and containment measures but also the economic losses due to victimization, the expenditure related with the judicial system and the recovery and well-being of the victims. In Mexico City, for example, violence was estimated to cost over 45,600 Mexican pesos per capita in 2021.

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