Mexico’s homicide rate hit a new record high in 2019 at more than 35,500 murders, suggesting President Andrés Manuel López Obrador failed to significantly address the country’s violence during his first year in office.
López Obrador has said previously that crime and violence are the toughest challenges Mexico faces. But on Tuesday, he said corruption is the country's main problem.
López Obrador said that white-collar criminals have done more damage to Mexico than the drug cartels responsible for many of the killings.
"We are giving the almost the same weight to [fighting] white-collar crime, as we do to drug cartels," López Obrador said.
According to data released by the national public security system, the number of homicides in Mexico rose to 35,588 in 2019.
But despite a record-high number of murders recorded last year, the overall increase – at 2.7 percent – was well below the double-digit growth in killings in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Over those years, homicides grew by year-over-year rates of 27 percent, 28 percent, and 17 percent, respectively.
While it is not clear what percentage of homicides are related to drug gang violence, the fact that those gangs have expanded into extortion and kidnapping makes them Mexico's main single source of violence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.