Violence Surpasses Car Accidents as Leading Cause of Death for Youths in Mexico

By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – A new report confirms that the leading cause of death for young people in Mexico is violence.  The country has been fighting drug cartels, drug violence, prostitution rings, and human trafficking issues for about four years and nothing has improved.  Men and women of all ages are subject to daily violence stemming from drug cartels and the government alike.

Map showing which drug cartels are prominent in different areas of Mexico.  (Image Courtesy of BBC News)
Map showing which drug cartels are prominent in different areas of Mexico. (Image Courtesy of BBC News)

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mexico has been involved in a drug war since 2007.  In 2008 and 2009, deaths among young people rose 150%.  Young people are defined as those individuals between the ages of 15 and 29.  Violence is now the leading cause of death, surpassing car accidents. 

Mexico’s government database on deaths shows astonishing numbers.  The Los Angeles Times reports that 1,638 young people died in 2008 due to suspected drug-related attacks.  This number rose to 2,511 in 2009 and 3,741 in 2010.  By no means are the young people targeted in particular.  CNN reports that in the past four and a half years, tens of thousands of people have been killed due to violence in the country.  BBC News puts this number at an estimated 40,000 since 2006 when President Calderon took office.

The most hard hit areas, accounting for half of the total homicides are Chihuahua, Baja California, Guerrero, Sinaloa and the state of Mexico (bordering Mexico City), reported the Los Angeles Times.

One of the major problems is that the drug cartels are so well armed.  It makes violence easy when the gangs have automatic weapons and protective armor.  American dollars largely fuel the success of the drug cartels.  Because there is such profitability for illegal drugs in the United States, billions of dollars go straight into the cartels’ pockets.  Not only does the United States provide the funding, but also, many of the weapons themselves were made in the U.S. and smuggled over the border.

It should also be noted that these are often not accidental deaths.  BBC News reports that the attacks are gruesome and it is common to find mass graves containing dozens of bodies.  Families are taken out one member at a time.  Even though thousands of troops and police have been deployed, violence has gotten progressively worse.  BBC News also reports that many police are corrupt and further escalate the violence.

Interestingly, Mexican citizens between the ages of 15 and 19 years old are the group most approving of torture and the death penalty against suspected cartel criminals, according to the Los Angeles Times.  Mexico’s drug war wages on, attempting to decrease the number of violence-related and drug-related deaths among young people and other citizens.

For more information, please visit: — Defeating Cartels Serves U.S. Interests — 13 Sept. 2011

The Los Angeles Times — More Mexico Youths Die From Violence Than Car Wrecks, Report Says — 12 Sept. 2011

CNN World — Tales From Mexico’s Drug Wars, WikiLeaks Style — 11 Sept. 2011

BBC News — Q&A: Mexico’s Drug-Related Violence — 26 Aug. 2011

Author: Impunity Watch Archive