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Latin American Hot Spots - Mexico

With today’s article we will begin a series which gives an overview of the current overall situation in the Latin American countries which are both strong economies and present medium to high-risk ratings due to the presence of organized crime, the existence of high murder rates and criminal activity targeting the general public in main cities.


Mexico is home to some of the region’s largest, most sophisticated and violent criminal groups, which use the proximity of the United States as their largest target for their illegal activities which include drug and people trafficking, smuggling of weapons and people across the border and money laundering. At a local level their activities include extorsion, cargo theft, micro-trafficking and prostitution.

The CJNG (Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion), which got its start working with the Sinaloa Cartel in the early 2010s, has emerged as the main force of drug trafficking in Mexico. The group makes use of a mixture of violence and community building, such as delivering gifts to children and promising to rid areas of other criminal groups. This has allowed it to spread from its original stronghold in the state of Jalisco to much of central Mexico, although not without bloody feuds starting up in Michoacán, Zacatecas and Mexico state, among other places. Currently, its influence appears to extend to virtually all of Mexico, with the exception of Sinaloa and parts of Chihuahua and Durango.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador began his period in 2018, winning the election with a clearly populist posture planning to end corruption at the government level and downscale the violence in the fight against the drug cartel. However, corruption has increased during his government. His decision to create a new law enforcement body, the National Guard, has reinforced a culture of clashes with the cartels, as well as pressuring Central American migrants to seek new, more dangerous routes to the US. Nevertheless, cartel violence and high rates of homicide have continued to burden Mexico.

During Lopez Obrador’s government, areas of the country that were traditionally considered safe for both locals and tourists have turned into the center of struggles between cartels to get the biggest chunk of the drug business brought along by tourist coming from the United States and Europe. The state of Quintana Roo, with Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen as the main tourist hubs have presented criminal incidents never seen before. Shootings on beaches and bars with innocent victims have brought the attention of the authorities and units for the Mexican armed forces have been deployed to the region.

A similar situation is present in Acapulco in the State of Guerrero, with a highly corrupted police force and the presence of drug cartels that bring violence to the streets, causing the flow of tourists to decrease.

Although the above factors raise concern, the Mexican economy continues to grow and the country, with over 120,000,000 inhabitants, is a very attractive market for companies from all over the world.