Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Security Stats

Ricardo Raphael, back from from his off-stage duty of the past several months, has some stats on who's behind the lion's share of the murders in Mexico over the past several years:
Of the total number of deaths thus far during Felipe Calderón Hinojosa's administration, roughly 60 percent can be attributed to the confrontations between the Pacific Federation--led by Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera--and its various adversaries. In fact, during the same time period, only 10 percent of said murders occurred without the participation, direct or indirect of that drug cartel.
These figures seem suspect. I imagine he is including virtually every murder in Durango, Chihuahua, and Sinaloa among the 60 percent, but many of those are small-time gang skirmishes that have nothing to do with Chapo or anyone of his level. I also imagine that he's including the Zetas-Gulf violence in Tamaulipas and Nuevo León as among the 30 percent indirectly caused by Sinaloa, which is also dubious, given that the two groups' split may not have had anything to do with Sinaloa.

More broadly, this is evidence of why "cartel", with its image of militaristic top-down control and Chapo and his circle ordering the murder of 20,000 people in four years, is a misleading label. It just doesn't make sense to assume that every member of every sub-division of every street gang working for one of Sinaloa's underbosses--it's worth remembering at this point that are an estimated 1,500 gangs in Juárez alone--is one of Chapo's foot soldiers. They may well carry out his dirty work sometimes, but not all of the violence they commit has anything to do with Chapo and his enemies.

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