Mexico Country Profile


Key Statistics

Population: 122 million (World Bank, 2013)

Capital: Mexico City

Languages: Spanish and indigenous languages

Major Ethnic Groups: mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%, white 9%, other 1%

GDP per Capita (current US dollars): 11,268 (IMF World Economic Outlook, 2015)

GDP per Capita PPP (current international dollars): 16,800 (IMF World Economic Outlook, 2015)

Security Sector Stats

Active Armed Forces: 270,250 (Military Balance, 2014)

Small Arms: the estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians is 15,000,000; the defence forces are reported to have 505,000 firearms; and Police in Mexico are reported to have 655,000 firearms (Gun Policy, 2015) 

Military Expenditure: 0.6% of GDP (World Bank, 2013)

Executive Summary

In recent years Mexico has suffered a brutal and often gruesome wave of drug-related violence as the government has confronted powerful criminal organisations. In total, an estimated 70,000 people were killed from 2006-2012, and at least ten percent of the bodies remain unidentified, although some estimates put the figure even higher.

Impunity is one of the biggest impediments to fully establishing the rule of law in Mexico. Many crimes go unreported due to a widespread lack of faith in the competence and trustworthiness of the authorities, and most crimes that are reported are never solved. There are widespread reports of torture, forced disappearances, and arbitrary detentions by federal, state, and municipal police forces.

Although Mexico has made some progress in implementing a major reform of its judicial system, transitioning from a traditional inquisitorial judicial system to a more modern accusatorial one, progress on police reform continues to be very slow. Lack of trust in the police has led the government to rely heavily on the armed forces to fight organised crime, which has undermined the urgency of police reform and led to concern over the militarization of citizen security. 

Security and Justice Context

In 2011, Mexico’s homicide rate was 23.7 per 100,000, having risen dramatically from 9.7 per 100,000 in 2006 (See Figure 1). The nationwide homicide rate obscures the fact that while some states, particularly in the southern part of the country, remain safe, others are wracked by violence. In 2011, Chihuahua state’s murder rate was 131 per 100,000, while Guerrero and Sinaloa both had 71 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. It appears, however, that homicides may have peaked in 2011, with 2012 registering a very slight decrease in total homicides.


Fig.1 Mexico Homicide Rate 2000-2011

Mexico's proximity to the world's largest drug consumer, the United States, has placed it in a central role in the international narcotics trade. It is the primary transhipment country for cocaine moving up from South America into the United States; according to some estimates, 95 percent of annual cocaine shipments headed to the United States first pass through Mexico.  Mexico is also the largest cultivator of poppy[1] (the raw material for heroin) in the region, and is a producer of marijuana and methamphetamine.

Mexico's organised criminal groups are among the hemisphere's largest and most sophisticated, with networks stretching throughout North and South America and into Europe. Among the most prominent are the Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas, the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) and the Beltran Leyva Organisation. They engage in drug, arms, and human trafficking, as well as extortion and kidnapping. Mexican criminal organisations have adapted to increased government pressure by establishing permanent bases in Central America[2] , and positioning themselves in South America to negotiate directly with Colombian groups who act as cocaine wholesalers. In addition, they have expanded their criminal portfolio beyond drug trafficking.

Former President Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) made confronting drug trafficking organisations the central point of his strategy against crime, and deployed the military to aid police operations. The government's emphasis on killing or capturing the leaders of Mexico's criminal organisations contributed to the fracturing of these groups[3] . These smaller groups subsequently fought for territory and influence, producing an increase in violence.

Violence against journalists has stymied press freedom; according to Mexico’s special prosecutor for crimes against journalists, 67 reporters were killed and 14 disappeared between 2006 and July of 2012. Media self-censorship in states with high levels of organised crime violence is largely practiced due to threats from criminal groups. Human rights and indigenous activists have also faced death threats and violence.

Central American migrants travelling through Mexico have been a particular target for criminal organisations, falling prey to kidnapping, forced recruitment by gangs, rape, and massacres. Mexican criminal organisations have become increasingly involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking; thousands of women and children, many of whom are immigrants travelling through Mexico, are forced into prostitution each year. One congresswoman has estimated that up to 800,000 people are trafficked for sexual exploitation in the country each year.

In addition to the increase in homicides, kidnapping and extortions have also increased in recent years. In 2007, Calderon’s first year in office, Mexico registered 438 kidnappings. This rose year-on-year, reaching a figure of 1,327 recorded cases in 2011[4] (See Figure 2.). One factor explaining this is the diversification of drug trafficking organisations into other criminal activities.


Fig.2 Mexico Kidnappings 2007-2011

While Mexico's gun laws are very strict—there is only one gun store in the whole country and licensing is tightly controlled—the black market arms trade continues to provide Mexican criminal organisations with high calibre weapons that often allow them to outgun the police. Of the more than 15 million firearms estimated to be in civilian hands, only around 2 million are registered.

Most of these firearms come from the United States; a 2011 report by a group of US senators found that 70 percent of firearms recovered by officials in Mexico in 2009 and 2010 came from the US.

Mexico is also a key money laundering hub for the region. In 2012 it was estimated that money laundering equated to 3.6 percent of Mexico’s GDP, or around $10 billion. In Colombia, another key country for money laundering activities, it is estimated to equate to three percent of GDP.

Perceptions of Insecurity

According to Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), the perception of insecurity in Mexico was 43.1 points in 2012, down slightly from a score of 43.5 points in 2010 (See Figure 3.)[5] . Though there was a slight improvement, Mexico still placed 8th highest out of 26 countries surveyed in terms of perception of insecurity.

As violence has risen and frustration with the government has grown, civil society groups have begun demanding a change in strategy. In 2011 and 2012, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad), headed by Javier Sicilia, a poet whose son was abducted and murdered, held marches and rallies in Mexico and the United States in which thousands of Mexicans participated to call for a change in government policy and an end to the violence.

Fig. 3 Mexico Perceptions of Insecurity 2010 and 2012

Security and Justice Institutions

Justice Institutions

Mexico's civilian legal system is a hybrid, drawing from both traditional European inquisitorial systems and common law traditions. In 2008, Mexico began the process of transforming the old inquisitorial system to a more modern accusatorial one with open trials in which suspects are presumed innocent. The military judicial system is an inquisitorial legal system, but like the civilian system, it is transitioning toward an oral accusatorial system.

Mexico has a dual system of federal and state courts. All cases related to organised crime are tried in the federal court system. Each of Mexico's thirty-one states and the Federal District (Mexico City) have their own local courts. Mexico also has specialised courts, such as tax, agrarian, and military courts.

Mexico's highest court is the Supreme Court of Justice (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación). Justices are appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. The court has final appellate jurisdiction over all federal and state appeals courts.

The Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República-PGR), housed under the executive branch, is responsible for criminal prosecutions. Within the there are special sub-prosecutors for issues such as corruption and organised crime.  There are also state prosecutors.

The National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos-CNDH) acts as the country's ombudsman and works to ensure that human rights are protected.

In 2009, Congress passed legislation that eliminated the Attorney General's Federal Agency of Investigation (Agencia Federal de Investigación - AFI) and replaced it with the Federal Ministerial Police.[6] The Federal Ministerial Police-who are tasked with ensuring compliance of judicial orders, protecting witnesses, and other tasks relating to the investigation and tracking of federal crimes-officially assumed operations in July 2012.

Inefficiency, corruption, and a lack of transparency continue to be serious problems for the judicial system. Although Mexico's Constitution establishes an independent judiciary, in practice court decisions are sometimes subject to improper political influence, especially at the state and local levels.  According to the World Economic Forum’s 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report, Mexico ranked 88th out of 144 countries on judicial independence.

The law gives defendants the right to an attorney, but at this stage in the implementation of the 2008 reforms, not all public defenders have received proper training. Public defender services are placed either in the judicial or executive branch, with very few autonomous public defender services, and so often the state public defender system cannot meet demand. Human rights organisations report that judges, especially in states that have not yet implemented the 2008 reforms, often allow statements obtained through torture to be used as evidence.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Victimisation and Perception of Public Security[7] (Encuesta Nacional de Victimización y Percepción sobre Seguridad Pública–ENVIPE), only 43.9 percent of Mexicans expressed confidence in the effectiveness of the country's judges while 66.3 percent of Mexicans perceived judges to be corrupt.

Mexico's judicial system is plagued by long delays. Because of the massive backlog of cases, lengthy pre-trial detention is a serious issue. According to some estimates, over 40 percent of prisoners are awaiting trial. According to the Mexican Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica-CIDE), prisoners must wait an average of two years for their trial. For many of the prisoners who are convicted of a crime, their sentences are actually shorter than the time already spent in prison.

In states that have yet to implement the 2008 reforms, pre-trial release on bond is not available to suspects accused of serious crimes. By law, suspects must appear before a judge who will rule on their continued detention within 48 hours, but there are reports of violations of this rule. In organised crime cases, which are only prosecuted at the federal level, suspects can be held for 96 hours before appearing before a judge. However authorities can use a special provision known as “arraigo” to hold suspects who have not been formally charged for up to eighty days. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has publicly criticised this measure on the grounds that it violates due process and facilitates torture.

Impunity remains a serious concern. According to the National Statistics and Geography Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía-INEGI), 91.6 percent of crimes committed in 2011 either were not reported or did not result in an investigation, a number known as the "black figure” (“cifra negra”). This number is on a par with the figure from 2010. 63.2 percent of crime victims who did not report crimes attributed their decision to deficiencies on the part of the authorities.

A 2011 study by Mexico’s National Autonomous University found that police only investigate 4.5 percent of reported crimes every year in Mexico, and that just one percent make it to trial. The most violent states also had the highest rates of impunity, while the most peaceful states with the lowest incidences of organised crime had the highest clearance rates for murders. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), some 90 percent of people arrested during Felipe Calderon's first five years as president later went free.

Mexico's penal system—which comes under the Interior Ministry (Secretaria de Gobernación–SEGOB)—is dangerously overburdened. A lack of resources and lengthy pre-trial detentions has led to overcrowded and underfunded prisons; as of July 2011, the country’s prisons were 23 percent over capacity. Corruption among prison guards is endemic, leading to numerous cases of prisoner escapes, including mass jailbreaks, and of prisoners obtaining weapons. A 2011 report by the CNDH found that 60 percent of the country's prisons were under the control of criminal groups.

Security Institutions

Mexico has three principal police forces; a centralised Federal Police (Policía Federal), state police forces run by the state governments, and municipal police forces run by municipal governments. As of May 2012, Mexico's Federal Police had 36,055 officers, representing a fourfold increase since 2006. As of September 2012, Mexico’s state and municipal forces had 430,000 officers.

In 2009, Congress passed new legislation that granted more investigative powers to the Ministry of Public Security (Secretaria de Seguridad Pública-SSP) and replaced the old Federal Preventive Police (Policía Federal Preventativa-PFP) with the Federal Police, who now have greater investigative responsibilities[8] .

Until President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012, the Federal Police were housed under the SSP. President Peña Nieto dismantled the SSP in January 2013and placed the Federal Police under the Interior Ministry which is now the primary agency responsible for internal security.

Police, particularly at the state and local level, have a reputation for corruption and have been found to be involved in extortion, kidnapping, and providing protection for organised criminal groups. Corruption at the municipal level is exacerbated by the fact that local officers are poorly paid and often outgunned in the face of criminal groups. According to the 2012 LAPOP survey, Mexico registered a score of 39.9 points in terms of the public’s confidence in police, giving the country the 7th lowest score in the region (See Figure 4.).


Fig. 4 Mexico Confidence in Police 2012

According to the 2012 ENVIPE, the Transit Police (Policía de Tránsito) are the most mistrusted division of the justice and security sectors, with 83.1 percent of respondents perceiving them as corrupt.  71.6 percent of respondents perceived the Municipal Police as corrupt, compared to 67.4 percent for the State Police and 57.0 percent for the Federal Police.

Despite the Federal Police have a comparatively better rating with regards to public confidence they were involved in an August 2012 scandal which saw a US diplomatic vehicle carrying two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents fired on by federal officers. The officers have since been charged with attempted murder and there is suspicion that they may have been working for an organised criminal group.

The Mexican army, which includes ground and air forces, is under the authority of the Ministry of National Defence (Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional-SEDENA). The Navy is under the authority of the Ministry of the Navy (Secretaria de la Marina-SEMAR). The Armed Forces has 261,930 personnel. The military’s mandate includes internal as well as external security.

From 2006 to 2012, President Calderon deployed over 50,000 troops from Mexico’s armed forces to fight organised crime. The armed forces carried out drug eradication operations, as well as joint anti-organised crime operations with the SSP and the PGR. According to the 2012 ENVIPE results, 83.0% of Mexicans viewed the army and the navy as either "very effective" or "somewhat effective,” compared to 55.4 percent who viewed the Federal Police the same way. The use of the army to fight drug traffickers continues to have very high support among the population.

Many have raised concerns about the military's increased role in fighting organised crime. Although the armed forces are more widely trusted than police, there are reports of human rights violations by the military, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances. In July of 2011, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that Mexico must comply with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) by trying human rights violations in civilian courts. However, military personnel are still usually tried in military courts.

In 2011, the CNDH reported that SEDENA was the government institution that had the greatest number of human rights complaints filed against it, with 1,626 complaints of cruel or degrading treatment and 42 cases of torture. As SEMAR's role in fighting organised crime has grown, so has the number of human rights complaints filed against it.

In areas where the government has deployed the military against organised crime, the armed forces sometimes detain individuals without the presence of federal investigators, making it difficult to prosecute those arrested.

Vision Mexico 2030 (La Visión México 2030) is the country's long-term strategic development plan. The plan includes objectives such as guaranteeing national security, building the rule of law, developing a "culture of legality," and maintaining economic growth. By 2030, the country aims to reduce the homicide rate to less than 5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, have a justice system that successfully solves 70 out of every 100 cases, and to increase the public perception of security so that 90 percent of Mexicans feel safe in their communities.

Upon taking office, Peña Nieto announced his administration’s security strategy which the president says will focus more on preventing violence, as opposed to Calderon’s which launched an attack on major criminal groups.

State of Security and Justice Sector Reform

Justice Sector Reform and Initiatives

Mexico embarked on a comprehensive judicial reform process in 2008. This reform involves replacing the current inquisitorial criminal justice system with an adversarial criminal justice system involving oral trials. Under the old system, trials were often longer and conducted behind closed doors, and suspects were not presumed innocent. Judges made decisions about cases with almost no oversight. The government hopes the new reforms will improve due process and increase accountability and transparency.

The deadline across all jurisdictions to fully implement these reforms is 2016. However, the speed of implementation varies across the country’s judicial jurisdictions. As of October 2012, only the states of Mexico, Morelos, and Chihuahua had fully implemented the judicial reforms.

The 2008 justice reform establishes rules on the use of evidence, confessions, and expert testimony. It also gives the police more responsibility in conducting investigations. Under the new law, all hearings and trials must be publicly accessible and must follow principles of confrontation and cross-examination that will allow defendants to challenge their accusers and promote greater transparency.

The Technical Secretariat for the Coordination and Implementation of Judicial Reform (Secretaría Técnica del Consejo de Coordinación para la Implementación del Sistema de Justicia Penal-SETEC) is the entity responsible for coordinating the justice sector reforms across the country, including developing training for lawyers.

Security Sector Reforms and Initiatives

Over the past several years, the SSP has restructured and increased the size of the Federal Police force. At the state level, the government created Model Police Units comprised of vetted officers and trained investigators and analysts. As of 2012, 24 out of 31 states and the Federal District participated in this program. Under President Calderon, the Mexican government established offices in all law enforcement agencies to vet police officers, a process known as “confidence control” ("control de confianza").

This vetting process has had mixed results. For the Federal Police, the vetting process has seen some success. In August 2012, the government announced that 100 percent of federal police officers had been vetted. At the state and local levels, however, implementation of vetting procedures has been slow. The vetting process, set forth in a national security law that came into effect in 2009, was meant to be completed by 2013, but the Calderon administration faced resistence from some state governors on the pace of the reforms. According to Mexican think-tank Evaluate Mexico (México Evalúa), as of April 2012 only a third of Mexico's states had carried out vetting procedures of all the top police commanders, and three states hadn't vetted a single of their highest ranking police officials. As of September 2012, 180,000 of the country’s 430,000 state and municipal police forces had been vetted, 36 percent of whom were found unfit to serve.

The emphasis on merely purging police departments of officers who fail the vetting process can be problematic. Many local police departments have conducted mass purges, firing hundreds of officers at once.  If the officers have been removed for having ties to gangs, removing them from paid work may just lead them to go work directly for criminal organisations, as has been found in some cases[9] . Furthermore, the high turnover rate of many local and state police departments makes it very difficult for police to build the necessary relationships with their constituencies.

Progress on more substantive police reform has been extremely slow and difficult for the government. During his administration President Calderon sought a police reform known as the “single command” ("mando unico") which would consolidate more than 2,000 municipal police departments into just 32 state bodies. This did not achieve the required support in Congress. President Peña Nieto has also expressed support for this kind of reform, though as of January 2013 had not announced any concrete plans to enact it.

Along with the dismantling of the SSP, President Peña Nieto announced that Mexico will create a new National Gendarmerie to be comprised of 10,000 agents to begin with. The force will be housed under the Interior Ministry like the Federal Police.  The Gendarmerie’s role will be primarily focused on conducting security patrols while the Federal Police will focus more on investigative efforts.

The government also announced in January 2013 that it plans to create a National Intelligence Centre (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia–CNI) that will work to bring together intelligence gathered by the police, PGR, and military, among other institutions, and will report to the Centre for Research and National Security (Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional – CISEN). No time frame has been given for its creation.

Parliamentary/Congressional Capacity for Oversight

Mexico's legislative branch has two chambers of parliament: the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) and the Senate (Cámara de Senadores). The government is not directly responsible to Congress, but Congress has some means of control over the actions of the administration, such as the ability of congressional committees to investigate agencies and summon state secretaries. The president appoints senior government officials and the Senate ratifies them.  The CNDH is accountable to Congress and its president is chosen by the Senate.

Security and Justice Opportunities

Mexico has received a very high level of support from the US government. The Merida Initiative, a US aid programme signed in 2008, initially provided mostly equipment for the security forces, but now has transitioned toward building institutions and training police, prosecutors, and other officials in the criminal justice system.

In recent years, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has increased its presence in Mexico. In June 2012, UNODC evaluated Mexico's Federal Police, and in October 2012 Mexico agreed to host a liaison office of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that will provide training, resources, and legal assistance for citizen security programs. 

Corruption remains a serious impediment to meaningful reform at all levels of government. In the 2012 edition of Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Mexico ranked 105th out of 176 countries, with a score of 34. This score showed a slight improvement from the previous year.

Justice Sector Opportunities

Mexico’s 2008 judicial reform is badly in need of support, if it is to succeed.  Regardless of the resources and the effort dedicated to training Mexican judges and lawyers on the part of the Mexican government, the reforms will have to overcome the centuries of tradition and culture vested in the old system. The eight-year timeline for implementation of the reforms is not very long given the lack of political will and resistance in many state governments.

There is an opportunity for support at the state level, particularly in states that have been slow to implement the 2008 reforms. Increased support is needed for training for Mexican lawyers, justice officials, and law school faculty and students, including exchange programs with countries with high-functioning judicial systems or that have undertaken similar judicial reforms. Prosecutors, public defenders, and judges will need extensive training in order to have the technical capacity to make the transition to oral, adversarial trials.

There is also opportunity for improving preventative measures and helping build stronger and more resilient communities, such as funding for gang prevention, civic engagement, and youth employment.

Efforts should be made to try and address the country’s penitentiary system and push for reform. The government has not undertaken the sweeping reforms that are required, meaning prisons are likely to remain corrupt and in the control of gangs and powerful criminals.

Security Sector Opportunities

One of Mexico’s biggest challenges is police reform. The issue is quality, not quantity; Mexico’s police forces far exceed the recommended UN police to population ratio.

Investing in programs to professionalise existing federal, state, and local law enforcement institutions may pay off more in the long run than eliminating old ones and creating new ones.  To complement the efforts already underway by the Mexican government and supported by outside actors such as the United States, there are opportunities to invest in better training for police, improving professional standards, improving oversight mechanisms, as well as expanding and improving vetting, hiring, and firing procedures. The situation is particularly dire at the municipal level; local police are not equipped to conduct criminal investigations and are often not even trained to preserve evidence at crime scenes.

An eye must be kept on the changes President Enrique Peña Nieto attempts to implement in Mexico’s security sector, given his government’s plans to create new institutions and/or eliminate old ones.

Similarly, it is important that Mexico build the capacity of its police force and work towards moving away from relying on the armed forces for public security. Both the Calderon and now the Peña Nieto administration have stressed that the military's involvement in the fight against organised crime is only temporary, but the armed forces have now been deployed in some public security capacity for many years. One issue with continuing to use the military until there are significant improvements in the professionalization of the police forces is that relying on the armed forces may ultimately undercut the urgency of major police reform.  What’s more, there are serious concerns over human rights abuses by the military.

Civil Society Actors for Engagement

According to the Johns Hopkins Centre for Civil Society Studies, Mexico has a very low civil society workforce as a share of the economically active population. However, Mexico does have many important NGOs working to improve citizen security and to hold the government accountable for reform of the security and justice sectors.

Mexico United Against Crime[10] (México Unido contra la Delincuencia) works to mobilise civil society and promote public security and justice reform.

México Evalúa[11] is a think tank that does research and analysis on public policy issues n Mexico, including crime, corruption, and judicial reform, and has publicly advocated for a change in security policy.

The Institute for Security and Democracy[12] (Instituto para la Seguridad y la Democracia - INSYDE) is an NGO that advocates for public security reform, particularly police reform.

The National Citizen Observatory[13] (Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano) is a civil society organisation that brings together citizen security-oriented NGOs to demand better public security, justice, and legality in Mexico. Participating organisations include Mexico Evalúa, Mexican United Against Crime, INSYDE, and Mexico SOS.


Human Rights Watch, “Neither Rights Nor Security: Killings, Torture, and Disappearances in Mexico’s ‘War on Drugs’,” November 2011

Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, “Presenta INEGI Resultados de la Envipe 2012,” September 2012

Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina, “Atlas Comparativo de la Defensa en América Latina y Caribe Edición 2012,” October 2012

Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, “Mexico–Gun Facts, Figures and Law,” Data retrieved from

The AmericasBarometer by the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), Vanderbilt University, “The Political Culture of Democracy in the Americas, 2010: Democratic Consolidation in the Americas in Hard Times,” December 2010

The AmericasBarometer by the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), Vanderbilt University, “Cultura Política de la Democracia en Mexico, 2010: Consolidación Democrática en las Américas en Tiempos Dificiles,” January 2011

The AmericasBarometer by the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), Vanderbilt University, “The Political Culture of Democracy in the Americas, 2012: Towards Equality of Opportunity,” November 2012 (Preliminary Version)

Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2012,” December 2012

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Homicide Statistics 2012,” Data set retrieved from

U.S. Department of State, “2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report Volume 1: Drug and Chemical Control,” March 2012

U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011,” May 2012

World Economic Forum, “The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013,” September 2012


[1] In 2010 it had 14,000 hectares of poppy under cultivation, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

[2] The Sinaloa Cartel and Zetas drug gang both have registered presences in Guatemala and Honduras.

[3] In December 2012, Mexico’s attorney general estimated there to be some 60-80 criminal groups in the country.

[4] Some estimates put the kidnapping figures much higher; according to Mexican non-governmental organisation (NGO) the Council for Law and Human Rights (Consejo para la Ley y los Derechos Humanos-CLDH), Mexico saw 72 kidnappings a day in 2012.

[5]  LAPOP recodes respondents’ answers into a scale of 0-100 with a higher score representing a higher perception of insecurity.

[6]  President Vicente Fox created the AFI in 2001 to replace the corrupt Federal Judicial Police (Policía Judicial Federal – PJF), but the AFI was plagued by corruption problems of its own.

[7] The survey is carried out by the government statistics agency, INEGI.

[8]  The Federal Preventive Police, created in 1999, lacked investigative powers and were tasked solely with preventing crime.

[9] Some criminal groups have even openly advertised recruitment drives for police.

[10] More information on their website:

[11] More information on their website:

[12] More information on their website:

[13] More information on their website: 

Igarapé Institute

The Igarapé Institute is a southern think tank devoted to evidence-based policy and action on complex social challenges including global drug policy, citizen security and international cooperation. Its goal is to stimulate humane engagement on emerging security and development issues. Across all its programs, the Institute adopts a three-prong approach:

  1. Diagnose challenges through cutting-edge research;
  2. Trigger informed debate and action across public and private spheres; and
  3. Design tailor-made solutions that are people-centered.

The International Security Sector Advisory Team

The International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) provides practical support to the international community in its efforts to improve security and justice, primarily in conflict-affected and fragile states. It does this by working with a group of member states and institutions to develop and promote good security and justice reform practices and principles, and by helping its members to build their capacity to support national and regional security and justice reform processes.