El Chapo's Arrest Might Have Elevated Mexico's Murder Rate

According to a new report, homicides in Mexico jumped from about 18,500 in 2015 to nearly 23,000 in 2016.
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El Chapo's Arrest Might Have Elevated Mexico's Murder Rate

Mexico has seen a significant spike in homicides recently.

And drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's arrest last year might be partly to blame.

According to a new report from the Justice in Mexico project, homicides in Mexico jumped from about 18,500 in 2015 to nearly 23,000 in 2016. That's an increase of about 20 percent.

Researchers say the timing of the increase in homicides coincides with when El Chapo was apprehended.

El Chapo was first captured by Mexican authorities back in 2014. A little more than a year later, he escaped from his prison cell through a mile-long tunnel. He was recaptured in 2016 and has since been extradited to the U.S.

Ever since El Chapo's most recent arrest, rival gangs have been fighting for control over his empire. The report suggests that is one of the biggest factors behind Mexico's increased violence.

One of the report's authors told USA Today, "It's kind of two steps forward, one step back. We took out a very powerful and important drug trafficker. But as a result, we have destabilized the ecosystem of organized crime in a way that has led to internal struggles."

El Chapo is currently being held at a high-security federal jail in New York. He has pleaded not guilty to running a massive drug smuggling operation that laundered more than $14 billion.