Mexico is on track to seeing its deadliest year in at least 20 years, with homicides up in the first nine months of 2017, according to an analysis released this week.
The 18,505 homicides reported by the Interior Department from January to September exceed those reported during the same period for any year on record, according to the report by the non-governmental National Citizens Observatory, which tracks crime statistics. This means the country will likely exceed the number of homicides reported in 2011 — previously seen as the peak of the drug war, the analysis says.
"This shows not just a public safety crisis, but also a public health problem in our country," the report said.
Mexico launched a militarized offensive in 2007 to fight drug traffickers in parts of the country, and while drug-related violence appeared to drop after 2011, it has been spreading, the report said.
On the 2,564 homicides reported across the country in September, the highest portion were from Baja California with 264. Neighboring Baja California Sur has seen fighting between factions and rivals of the Sinaloa drug cartel, whose top boss, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was extradited to the U.S. this year, independent security analyst Alejandro Hope has said.
But the next two states with the highest numbers are Guerrero with 215 in Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, and the state of Mexico with 201 just outside Mexico City.
Among the homicides reported, according to the report, there were six men decapitated on Sept. 1 in the state of Guerrero; seven people — including four police officers — gunned down on Sept. 5 in the north central state of Guanajuato; and a 19-year-old woman was found dead on Sept. 11 in the central state of Puebla after hailing a private ride-sharing service and going missing three days earlier.