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Experts Question If Mexico City Disappearances Include Murders

Mexico City’s homicide and crime rates have declined, but some experts question if some of the city’s disappearances include murders, The Guardian reports. Official data show the rates of “high-impact” crimes, such as murder, kidnap and robbery, falling across the board since 2019, and the public’s perception of insecurity improving. Homicides in the capital appear to have fallen by half. Mexico’s national murder rate in 2022 was 25.2 per 100,000 people, but in Mexico City the rate has fallen to 8 per 100,000, similar to U.S. cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is the clear favorite to become Mexico’s next president as the endorsed successor of López Obrador, and she has made security improvements in Mexico City an important part of her platform.


One data point complicates the picture: the ever-growing number of disappeared people in the capital. Each year hundreds, sometimes more than a thousand, go missing. This has prompted investigators to take a closer look at the city’s success story. “I think it’s quite probable that lots of the people who disappeared have in reality been murdered,” said Elena Azaola, an academic and member of the citizen council for the Search Commission. “And these homicides are not being counted.” Mexico’s forensic service, its National Geography and Statistics Institute and the National Public Security System each compile their own homicide tallies – and most years those totals differ by hundreds. Every year since 2016, the cause of between 25 and 47% of violent deaths has not been identified, making it difficult to know if they were homicides, suicides or accidents. This proportion is far higher in Mexico City than anywhere else in the country.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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