The number of homicides in Mexico hit a record high of 34,582 murders in 2019, according to a report by the Secretariat of Public Security released on Monday.
The homicide rate averaged about 95 murders per day for 2019. The single deadliest day came on December 1, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador marked one year since he assumed office. 127 people were murdered the same day.
Mexico’s President has publicly called for a policy of “hugs, not bullets” when dealing with the country’s drug cartels. López Obrador has also called for decriminalizing drugs and for reforming the country’s penal system.
Mexico has seen several high-profile crises in its battle with drug cartels. In October, security forces captured Ovidio Guzmán López, son of the notorious head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, but were forced to release López after gunmen laid siege to security forces and civilians in the area.
In November, nine members of the Mormon LeBarón family with dual U.S.-Mexico citizenship were gunned down by suspected cartel members. Mexican authorities have detained several suspects in connection with the massacre, including a police chief suspected of cartel ties.
“The entire northwest [of Mexico] has a reputation that all police officers work for organized crime,” said Julián LeBarón, a spokesman for the family. “And that’s what high school kids tell you. It’s not a mystery.”
Meanwhile, President Trump has cracked down on illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border as a centerpiece of his agenda. The President has attempted to divert funds from the Pentagon for construction of a border wall to deter illegal immigrants, and his administration has instituted a number of measures meant to dissuade immigration through the southern border, including the so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers.