Cold case: 98 percent of Mexico's 2012 murder cases unsolved

Improving the efficiency of the judiciary in Mexico remains one of the major challenges facing President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Insight Crime researches, analyzes, and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Find all of Elyssa Pachico’s work here.

According to Mexico's national statistics institute, just 1.8 percent of the homicides registered in 2012 have resulted in a sentence, a grim reminder of the challenges that Mexico faces in speeding up its judicial process.

As Animal Politico reports, sentences have been issued in just 523 of the 27,500 homicides registered in Mexico last year, according to statistic agency INEGI.

The numbers show that in two states, Hidalgo and Tlaxcala, no homicide cases from last year resulted in sentences.  

Things aren't much better in some of Mexico's most crime-racked regions, including San Luis Potosi (where 99.6 percent of homicide cases have not been resolved), Sinaloa (99.2 percent), Chihuahua (98.3 percent), Tamaulipas (97.5 percent), and Michoacan (96.8 percent).

The state with the highest rate of sentencing is the Federal District, although 81.4 percent of cases here remain unsolved. 

As noted by Animal Politico, local governments have misleadingly registered some murder cases as "processed" – meaning that a suspect was presented before a judge – even though they ultimately did not result in a sentence. In Hidalgo, for example, 106 people were reported as having been "processed," although none of the cases saw convictions. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The challenges facing Mexico's judiciary are well noted. It is not just a matter of stalled homicide cases – last year, the Attorney General's Office reported that only 30 percent of those detained on drug trafficking charges between 2007 and 2011 were convicted.  The United Nations has said that 90 percent of those arrested during the first five years of President Felipe Calderon's administration eventually went free.

Improving the efficiency of the judiciary remains one of the major challenges facing President Enrique Peña Nieto, as it was under Calderon, who oversaw a series of dramatic reforms in 2008. One issue is the number of public servants who still need to trained in Mexico's new accusatorial trial system. The US is helping with this, but the process is moving slowly.

  Insight Crime researches, analyzes, and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Find all of Elyssa Pachico’s work here.

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