MEXICO CITY (AP) — The number of homicides in Mexico has grown during the new coronavirus pandemic, including a 9.2% spike in killings of women, according to government figures released Monday.
The data for the first half of 2020 showed homicides increased 1.9% to 17,982, as compared to 17,653 in the same period of 2019.
Activists have long worried that the increased confinement of families to their homes would increase killings of women, and they indeed grew from 448 in the first half of 2019 to 489 in the same period of 2020.
Some experts, meanwhile, had hoped the lockdown caused by the coronavirus would limit the drug gang activity that is a major cause of the violencue, but on Monday the Defense Department released an analysis saying that a disturbing video of massed drug cartel gunmen posted online last week was indeed genuine and had received about 16 million views in a few days.
The department said the video showed a column of about 75 Jalisco cartel gunmen dressed in military-style fatigues with a dozen homemade armored pickup trucks, an anti-aircraft gun, nine belt-fed machine guns, ten .50-caliber sniper rifles, six grenade launchers and 54 assault rifles.
The department said the video showed “evidence of military-style training” and may have been timed to coincide with the July 17 birthday of Jalisco cartel leader Nemesio "El Mencho" Oseguera.
The department said the video was apparently filmed near the border of Jalisco and Guanajuato states and shows an “elite group” of cartel gunmen formed in 2019 who have been linked to an attack on police, but who have apparently not used the armored vehicles in combat or directly attacked federal forces.
Many of the trucks have welded steel-plate armor, turrets and firing slots.
The army said “the armament, the equipment and the vehicles used show an unlimited use of money earned from illegal activities.”
The department also suggested the Jalisco cartel may have been filmed that and another video “in response” to another drug gang leader's suggestion that he might call on the Sinaloa cartel for help in fighting Jalisco. Jalisco is fighting the Santa Rosa de Lima gang for control of the central state of Guanajuato.
In a video posted in June, José Antonio Yépez, the leader of the Santa Rosa gang, spoke about allying himself with the Sinaloa cartel to fight off the incursion by Jalisco. That proxy war has already made Guanajuato the deadliest state in Mexico. Guanajuato was where gunmen burst into a drug rehabilitation center in early July and killed at least 27 people. Those killings were not included in the figures released Monday.
The Public Safety Department noted in its report that the rate of growth in homicides has eased somewhat.