That’s the body count for the last three months in this tiny corner of Mexico. And that’s just for the 70 km. radius around where I live. At least that’s what a very good friend of mine told me this afternoon. He’s very well connected* so I have no reason to doubt his word.
I am guessing there are maybe 250,000 people that live in that circle so if you prorate that number over 12 months then apply the standard normalization factor of per 100,000 population, the number is truly staggering. In fact it is so damn high that something must be totally wrong with how I am calculating this.
Yet according to the web – A crime (aka murder) rate is calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population; the result is then multiplied by 100,000.
So – giving the benefit of the doubt – if only half that number of people (1800/2=900) are murdered here on average per 3 months (prorated out to a 12 month period means multiplying by 4) and you were to double (even quadruple) the population to 1 million people then the murder rate would still be astronomical: 360 murders per 100,000 population. ((900 X4)/1M X 100K = 360). That can’t be right, can it?
By way of comparison, Honduras in 2014 – the most violent country in the world had 90 murders per 100,000 population.
So what did the web (aka Forbes) have to say about murder violence in Mexico in 2016? “The state of Guerrero logged 2,213 murders. The State of México recorded 2,053. Michoacán tallied 1,287. Veracruz reported 1,258. The tiny state of Colima logged a staggering 1,232 killings.”
So sanity testing my results using the state of Colima (pop. 650,000) as an example: 1232/650,000 X 100,000 = 189 murders per 100,000 population. Holy shit! That is one huge number!
Using the Forbes murder tally for Michoacan for 2016 with 1287 deaths would yield: 1287/4,350,000 X 100,000 = 29.6 murders per 100,000 population. And that figure of 29.6 per 100K sounds more in line with what one would expect given the prevailing statistics.
But one piece of evidence missing from the statistics that would very well support my very well informed friend’s claim that 1800 people were killed here locally in the last 3 months is without question the understanding that this is the most contentious piece of real estate in all of Michoacán.
Why is that? For two reasons: First, we are surrounded on three sides by Jalisco. Second, the town where I live is very rich. Hence, every cartel – The New Generation Cartel, The Sineloa Cartel, and The Knights Templar Cartel – all want to own this particular piece of geography.
So as astronomically high as that number sounds, were 1800 people really killed here in the last 3 months? If my friend said so then I’ve got to believe him. He’s always been right in the past.
So what do these new numbers tell us? Three very important things: One. The violence is getting worse and there is no projected end in sight. And none of the media is reporting the truth. Not even close. And just looking at the Colima statistics which were reported in the Forbes article, “The tiny state of Colima logged a staggering 1,232 killings.” Unsurprisingly the one thing Forbes left out was listing Colima’s diminutive population of 650,000. Had they done this the number, when run out with the 2016 murder number of 1232 people, would show the almost incomprehensible death rate of 189 murders per 100,000 population. Which differs with conventional wisdom that says Honduras is the most violent country in the world with 90 murders per 100,000 people.
So lastly, is it possible that isolated pockets of Mexico like tiny Colima and this corner of Michoacán are experiencing off the charts levels of violence? Levels of violence that approach war zones like Syria in 2016 (360 deaths (here) vs. 550 deaths (there) per 100K)? The answer appears to be yes. Here is a recent article in the Guardian calling Colima “the murder capital of Mexico” which gets some of the facts right but their data they even admit is suspect.
*This same person told me about a couple of ‘dead’ high ranking cartel members he’s seen recently in town. He even had a longish conversation with one of them. Not so dead after all it seems.
All kinds of strange shit going on these days but then again maybe it’s just one of those misunderstood holiday miracles.
Who really knows?