According to new statistics, murders along the US-Mexico border have declined for the third year in a row, a sign the country is slowly stabilizing from its notorious drug wars.
A new report by the University of San Diego, Justice in Mexico Project, showed a 13.8 percent reduction in murders across the country in 2014. The most pronounced declines occurred along the US border.
The report shows that in 2014, 15,649 murders occurred in Mexico, a significant decline from its peak in 2011 with 22,480 murders. Five out of the six Mexican states that share a border with the US reported a combined homicide drop of 17.7 percent.
“These data really help to underscore that we’re talking about a sea change in violence,” said David Shirk, co-author of the report and director of the Justice in Mexico Project, a U.S.-based initiative to protect human rights south of the border.
“You still have elevated levels of crime, so we still have a long way to go. But there is improvement, and we have to acknowledge that improvement and understand why it’s happening so we can try to further it.”
Although homicide numbers have dropped, Maureen Meyer, senior associate for Mexico at the Washington Office in Latin America, says that Mexicans still face very high levels of extortion, kidnappings and other violent crimes.
Meyers says that the overall reduction in homicides is encouraging and is something that allows Mexican officials time to make adjustments to the country’s judicial system, police practices and anti-corruption programs.
The government must “make sure that the space opened by having less violence leads to structural changes to Mexico’s institutions to guarantee a strong rule of law in the future,” she adds.
After the 2006 announcement that then-President Felipe Calderón intended to crack down on drug cartels, Mexico found itself in a nationwide drug war. The US agreed to help, sending $2.3 billion since 2008 to help train Mexican police, buy new scanners, X-ray machines, aircraft and almost 400 canines trained to detect weapons, explosives and drugs.
The strategy did prove successful, however, unexpectated consequences of mass violence began throughout the country.
Current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, took office in 2012, vowing to continue the crackdown on drug cartels and has seen the capture of the largest drug supplier to the US. However, Meyer says that it appears some drug cartels have negotiated a deal to share the lucrative smuggling routes into the US.