The drug-related murders that plagued Mexico for six years have decreased in the past six months, while fewer people have disappeared than previously thought, the interior minister said Friday.
Mexico’s top security official, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, said deaths linked to organized crime have fallen by around 20 percent since the new government took office in December compared to the previous six months.
“That’s how we will end the month of May,” Osorio Chong told a group of foreign journalists in Mexico City.
President Enrique Pena Nieto took office on December 1 vowing to reduce the levels of drug-related violence that left 70,000 people dead under the six-year term of his predecessor, Felipe Calderon.
But some analysts have voiced doubts that the murder rate has fallen so drastically, and questioned the methodology used by the government to count deaths linked to organized crime.
Alejandro Hope, a security analyst at the Mexican Competitiveness Institute and former Mexican intelligence official, estimates that homicides fell by a marginal 0.6 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to the last three months of 2012.
While Osorio Chong did not provide details of the latest body count, his ministry had reported 5,296 murders related to organized crime between December and April — a five percent reduction from Calderon’s final five months in office.
He defended his ministry’s methodology to count the dead, and said the list of 26,121 people who disappeared during the drug war between 2006 and 2012 will be drastically revised down.
Many of the people reported missing had simply left their homes for personal reasons, for work or because they emigrated, the minister said.
“In two months, we will be able to say by how many the number of disappeared has dropped, with an investigation in which we will inform the families,” Osorio Chong said.