In response to a continually deteriorating security situation, ASI Group, a MEDEX Global Solutions company, is increasing its threat level for Mexico from 3 (Medium) to 4 (High), effective immediately. ASI assigns its threat levels in response to long-term trends at the country and city levels, with some exceptions for significant crises. Over the past two years, ASI has closely monitored incident reports and has engaged in extensive security operations across the country, including multiple deployments by senior ASI personnel to accurately gauge the seriousness of the situation on the ground in the most affected locations. As a result, our escalation is a response to the factors cited above in conjunction with their impact on the international business community and our conclusion that an improvement in this situation is extremely unlikely over the next two years.
The drug-related violence in Mexico has steadily increased since the current Mexican government placed a priority on eliminating the cartels upon coming into office, but radically escalated approximately two years ago. Initially, the confrontations were primarily between the cartel groups and the police and federal armed forces. The situation, however, gradually changed when cartels began vying for regional drug-trafficking corridors to the U.S., often following the arrest or death of a high-ranking cartel leader, setting off a number of rivalries in various regions that quickly escalated into the extreme levels of violence we are seeing today. It is this constant vying for control over drug-trafficking territory — often accompanied by alignments between cartels or fractures within groups or partnerships — that continually contributes to this escalation in violence.
Not all areas of Mexico currently experience the same extreme levels of violence and crime related to the drug trade, as particularly seen in the northern border cities. However, the spread of violent incidents away from the border areas and the increasingly brazen nature of armed confrontations between rival cartel groups and law enforcement are cause for renewed attention. Moreover, incidents have increasingly resulted in collateral casualties, even in areas away from the cities with the highest rate of violence.
Additionally, the clear ineffectuality of Mexican law enforcement, well-known for its corruption, only buttresses these concerns. Similarly, the inability by the federal and local governments to adequately respond to and stabilize impacted areas beyond short-term deployments is not likely to change even should a different political group take charge at the next presidential election. Drug cartels are controlling increasing areas of Mexico, which is translating into increasing collaboration with local law enforcement and political offices.
ASI has not presently raised the threat levels for major tourist destinations such as Los Cabos and Cancun, but we are closely monitoring the situation with increasing concern over recent incidents in the surrounding areas. We will continue to track incidents and will provide further updates in Hot Spots and our World Watch® Online platform.