New report: Juarez After the War

ciudad juarezIn Sight Crime, 2/13/2013

The following is an excerpt from Steven Dudley’s latest report for In Sight Crime: Organized Crime in the Americas, titled Juarez After the War.

For many crime watchers, the fighting in Juarez that cost nearly 10,000 people their lives over a four year stretch was a battle of the titans: the Juarez Cartel versus the Sinaloa Cartel. But beneath that analysis is the deeper question of who pushes the levers of power in Mexico.

The question is even more complicated in Juarez, a border city where several layers of power brokers are still seeking to impose their will on one another and control this lucrative plaza. These include large criminal groups, local and federal police, the army, the state Attorney General’s Office, politicians, and street gangs.

Read full report here…



Part III: The Gauntlet (Insight Crime)-Mexico Institute in the News

InSight Crime, 11/26/2012

IMG_0388According to Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) — the only Mexican government entity that has released data on kidnappings of migrants — 9,758 migrants were kidnapped in 33 different “events” between September 2008 and February 2009.1 In a 2011 study the CNDH estimated that 11,333 migrants were kidnapped between April and September of 2010 in 214 different events.2 Extrapolating the CNDH’s 2011 findings suggests that around 20,000 migrants are kidnapped per year in Mexico.

Read more…

Regional Migration Study Group Releases New Report

Migrants who choose to proceed even in the face of these risks increasingly are forced to seek the
assistance of intermediaries known as polleros, or “coyotes.” Those who are unable to afford a coyote are more likely to be abused or kidnapped, and held for ransom along the way. While there is little consensus on the numbers, Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights estimates that about 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year by criminal organizations. In Transnational
Crime in Mexico and Central America: Its Evolution and Role in International
, Steven Dudley, the co-director of InSight Crime, traces the rise of Mexican criminal organizations and Central American gangs over recent decades and examines how these criminal groups impact migrants moving northward. The report reviews the origins and growth of the main illicit networks operating in Mexico and Central America, then outlines the little that is known about how criminal groups profit from, and in some cases facilitate, the flow of migrants northward.  This report is the latest research from the Regional Migration Study Group, a partnership between MPI and the Latin American Program/Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

To read the full report click here

Scholar Update- Steven Dudley

The Mexico institute is proud to be hosting Steven Dudley as a scholar in residence at the Wilson Center. Dudley arrived at the Wilson Center in September, 2012, and has been working on a book that analyzes the evolution of criminal organizations in Mexico. His research focuses on the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants by members of the Los Zetas drug trafficking organization on a ranch in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, an event that was widely reported but has received limited analysis. Dudley is working to chronicle the events, understand the forces that led to such horrific and seemingly senseless massacre, and consider what lessons can be drawn about the evolution of Los Zetas and the organized-crime landscape in Mexico. His is also working with Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Mexico Institute, on a project looking at civic engagement and public security and has been a panel member for a related Wilson Center-sponsored congressional briefing.


As a longtime reporter and founder of InSight Crime, Steven Dudley brings a wealth of experience to these efforts to understand the evolution of organized crime groups and the promotion of public security. Dudley is a longtime reporter, investigator and consultant who specializes in breaking down security issues on-the-ground in conflict situations; studying trends and tendencies of organized crime; analyzing political crises; investigating international and local justice systems; and reporting on corporate social responsibility, environmental subjects, and human rights issues. He is an expert on Latin America, where he lived for over 15 years, and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Dudley is the Co-director of InSight Crime, a joint initiative of American University in Washington DC, and the Foundation InSight Crime in Medellín, Colombia, which monitors, analyzes and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Based in Washington D.C., Dudley works with a team of eleven investigators and various contributors throughout the region to give the public a more complete view of how organized crime works in the Americas, as well as its impact on public policy and communities throughout Latin America. Prior to running InSight Crime, he worked as a journalist for the Miami Herald, National Public Radio, the Washington Post and other media organizations. He has won various awards for his writing and in 2007 was named a Knight Fellow at Stanford University.

Colombia rebels’ post-conflict role a key issue in peace talks

LA Times, 10/15/2012

Among the many thorny issues to be hammered out in peace talks beginning
Wednesday in Oslo between Colombia’s government and the country’s largest rebel
group is what sort of post-conflict political role will be afforded to the
insurgents. [Steven] Dudley, a researcher with the think tank InSight Crime, voiced optimism that Colombia could avoid a new wave of killings if a peace accord is signed.

“Colombia is not what it was in the past,” he said. “There is a stronger justice system, more accountability in the military and police, and a political and economic class that understands the long-term costs of fratricidal politics.”

Read more…

Uptick in Mexico ‘Confrontation’ Deaths Strikes Disturbing Pattern

InSight Crime, 8/24/11

Deaths in what the Mexican government calls “confrontations and aggressions” rose from 231 in 2007 to 2,099 in 2010 (see statistics here). Figures for 2011 are not yet available but one government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to comment publicly on this matter, said there have been over 950 deaths in “confrontations” through early June 2011, suggesting that they will equal or surpass last year’s totals.

“Confrontations” and “aggressions” are two of three descriptions the Mexican government uses to categorize deaths related to organized crime. Unfortunately, the government groups these two categories together in its statistics, but they are decidedly different.

Read more…

Andrew Selee, AL DÍA: Analysis from the Mexico Institute


This analysis of the data on organized crime-related killings in Mexico by Steven Dudley of Insight presents a very useful picture of how violence is evolving.  One possible interpretation for the rise in confrontations between the military and organized crime groups (and between the Federal Police and these groups) is that the government has developed a degree of capacity it didn’t have a few years ago.

The lack of these confrontations until 2008 suggests that the government was largely a bystander to the violence taking place in the country and is now more engaged in confronting the organized crime groups for the first time over the past two to three years.  Whether this new level of engagement (which, most likely, reflects better intelligence and capacity to engage) will be successful in lowering violence and degrading the organized crime groups, of course, depends on many other factors, including a broader strategy to tackle the finances and logistical flows of these organizations and to build credible police, prosecutorial, and judicial institutions.