The leaders of Mexico, Canada and the U.S. are gathering today for the final so-called Three Amigos summit of Barack Obama’s presidency. While clean energy targets and other issues will be high on the agenda, so too will the longstanding challenge of reining in the violence associated with transnational drug trafficking, particularly in Mexico.
Cooperation with the U.S. on this issue has been a source of tensions under the administration of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who distanced his country’s security forces from their American counterparts. That trend was partly reversed in the high-profile January 2016 arrest of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman following his second prison escape the previous July.
Despite the strained relationship with U.S. law enforcement agencies, violence actually fell in Mexico. But after several years of progressive decline, Mexico’s overall homicide rate has been on the rise again in the past few months. Fifty-five homicides were carried out daily in February 2016, the highest figure in over two years and an 11 percent year-on-year increase, according to data from the National Public Security System (known by its Spanish-language acronym SNSP). Homicides increased in 18 out of Mexico’s 31 states, and more than doubled in five states, as reported by Insight Crime in May 2016.