Drug Cartel-Related Murders Exceed 10,000 for Year So Far, According to a Mexican Newspaper Tally

By Edwin Mora | December 2, 2010 | 10:52 AM EST

A young man lies dead in a public park after being shot to death by unidentified assailants in the municipality of Apodaca on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico, Wednesday Dec. 1, 2010. The numbered tags mark bullets casings. (AP Photo/Carlos Jasso)

(CNSNews.com) - Cartel-related murders in Mexico’s drug war have surpassed 10,000 so far this year, according to a tally kept by the Mexican newspaper Reforma.

As of November 19, the newspaper’s Ejecutómetro (execution-meter) stood at 10,514 for 2010. With an estimated 230 killings a week in the last two months, the cartel-related murders for 2010 could reach 12,000 by the end of the year.

That figure is about twice the overall number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, which currently stand at about 5,700 for the entire duration of both wars to date, as reported by CNSNews.com.

The Reforma newspaper shows that since Felipe Calderón became president of Mexico in December 2006, there have been 24,534 killings attributed to drug cartel violence, a more conservative estimate than the Mexican government’s official estimate of 28,000.

Reforma’s tally includes the murders of police officers, members of the military, and people under 18 years of age. It does not specify nationality of those killed, although most were Mexicans. The tally includes approximately 800 killings after torture and more than 300 decapitations.

The 2010 murder tally in Mexico is about 60 percent higher than the 2009 count of 6,587. Chihuahua, the Mexican state that includes what is arguably one of the most violent cities in the world, Ciudad Juárez, continues to be the deadliest, with 2,912 executions so far this year. 

In the last eight weeks, there have been approximately 66 killings a week in Chihuahua, most of them happening in Ciudad Juárez, which borders El Paso, Texas.

Nevertheless, the murders in Mexico’s border region have gone down as a percentage of the national total when compared to the rate in 2009.

This year, the U.S.-Mexico border region accounts for only 46 percent of the drug-cartel killings throughout the country, partly due to the increase in violence in Mexico’s Central-Pacific region, where approximately 38 percent of the murders have taken place this year.

The overall uptick in the violent killings this year can be partly attributed to two northeastern states, Tamaulipas (692) and Nuevo León (550), which combined account for 12 percent of the 2010 deaths. Those two states have experienced an eight-fold increase from their 2009 murder tally.

Yucatán is the only state that has not registered drug-related murders so far in 2010.

According to the U.S. State Department, since 2006, the Mexican government has mobilized military troops and federal police to combat drug-trafficking organizations, and those confrontations often result in shootouts. The drug trafficking organizations also have fought each other for control of drug-trafficking routes. The shooting eruptions all too often result in the deaths of innocent bystanders.

Since 2006, the State Department noted, "large firefights have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, often in broad daylight on streets and other public venues.  Such firefights have occurred mostly in northern Mexico, including Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Chihuahua City, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Piedras Negras, Reynosa, Matamoros and Monterrey. Firefights have also occurred in Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area."

The State Department says the violent attacks and "persistent security concerns" mean U.S. citizens should defer unnecessary travel to Michoacán and Tamaulipas, and to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila. Americans living or traveling in those areas should exercise "extreme caution," the travel warning says.