Mexico faces continued drug gang violence despite pandemic

Coronavirus

In this Feb. 12, 2020 file photo, soldiers patrol a neighborhood in Irapuato, Guanajuato state, Mexico. Mexico’s drug war has long played out in dusty northern border cities or the poppy fields of its southern mountains, but now the killings have moved to the conservative industrial heartland state of Guanajuato. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Homicides in Mexico dropped only slightly in April despite widespread lockdowns and social distancing measures for the coronavirus outbreak, suggesting the pandemic has done little to stem drug gang violence.

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Killings nationwide amounted to 3,020 in April, down from 3,078 in March. That was below the peak of 3,158 in July 2018, but it was above the average of about 2,900 killings that had occurred in recent months.

One bright spot is that mass looting events that authorities feared might happen during the pandemic have not materialized. After a half dozen such incidents reported between late March and mid-April, authorities haven’t reported any in May.

With many stores, factories and other businesses closed and huge reductions in traffic and movement of people, some had thought killings might decline. But much of the violence appears linked to dispute between rival drug gangs.

The state of Guanajuato, where the Jalisco and Santa Rosa de Lima cartels are fighting for control, once again led in total homicides, with over 1,500 registered so far this year.

“We have been able to maintain a line of contention and haven’t allowed homicides to continue rising, as they had been doing,” said Public Safety Secretary Alfonso Durazo.

It appears disruptions in drug markets and other illegal activities may have forced gangs to branch out into new areas, like robbing trucks loaded with food.

Last month, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed killings on drug cartels “who continue to fight over turf and drug trafficking routes; they are fighting each other constantly.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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