On July 20, more than 1,000 Mexican Marines and federal and local police descended on a southeastern suburb of Mexico City to try and capture a notorious, alleged drug cartel boss. In the clash that ensued, the Marines killed eight suspected drug traffickers from the Cartel de Tlahuac, including its reputed leader, Felipe de Jesus Perez Luna. In response, the cartel’s members hijacked and burned buses in the streets.
The operation put to rest a longstanding Mexican government narrative that the country’s drug cartels, present in the majority of Mexican states, do not operate in the capital. It has also become the most vivid image from what government statistics suggest will be the most violent year in Mexico since aggregate crime figures were first collected in 1997.
The same day that buses burned in the streets of Tlahuac, a branch of Mexico’s Interior Secretariat, known as Segob, published national figures on violent crime for the past 20 years. The data indicate that Mexico had 12,155 murders in the first six months of 2017, on course for just over 24,300 for the year, which would eclipse 2011 as the most murderous on record. The single-month homicide figures for May and June of this year are the highest since Segob began collating the data two decades ago.