Mexico drug war death toll up 60 percent in 2010. Why?
The government on Wednesday announced that 15,273 people died in the Mexico drug war in 2010.
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Although drug-related violence has moved away from the US-Mexican border, it is still contained in hot spots. Across the border from El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juárez logged one-quarter of all drug-war casualties in 2010. Violence also flared along the central west coast, but most of the country, including the capital and almost all tourist spots, remain relatively unaffected.Skip to next paragraph
Security spokesman Alejandro Poire said in August that 80 percent of drug-related homicides have occurred in just 162 municipalities, out of more than 2,400 nationwide. The overall murder figures are also lower than in many other countries in the region, including El Salvador and Honduras.
Who are the major players that are fighting against federal forces in Mexico's drug war?
The Sinaloa Federation – whose head, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, remains the most wanted man in Mexico – is still considered the nation's most powerful group. Its power extends from the central west coast all the way up to the center north of the country. Its battle with the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization (also known as the Juárez cartel) over smuggling routes into the US precipitates the violence in Ciudad Juárez.
The Zetas, former Army special forces and once the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, officially broke off from the Gulf group in January last year, though the two have been feuding for years. The Zetas continue to wreak havoc in wide swaths of the country as they battle their former allies. They are known to be increasingly involved in illicit activities beyond narcotics, including kidnapping and extortion. They were blamed for the killing of the 72 migrants this summer. They also have deep ties in Latin America and beyond.
According to STRATFOR, this year saw the emergence of an alignment called the New Federation, a group comprised of the Gulf Cartel, La Familia Michoacána, and the Sinaloa Federation, in an effort to overrun the Zetas.
Because of various setbacks in each of the factions, however, the Zetas appear unaffected for now.
La Familia, in Michoacán, has lost key figures and even reportedly sought a truce with the federal government, which many analysts interpret as a sign of their weakened position a year after being called Mexico's most dangerous organization.
The Beltran Leyva Organization faced rapid decline this year amid an internal power struggle between Hector Beltran Leyva and Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villarreal. That conflict dissipated with La Barbie's arrest in August.