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Facts Matter

The casualties of Mexico's drug wars

Bernardo De Niz / AP

The issue:

23,000 people died in Mexico's drug wars in 2016, making it the second-deadliest country — just behind Syria, whose civil war claimed 50,000 casualties. And the number of homicides are continuing to grow as Mexico's drug wars increasingly become more violent, per CNN.

The facts:

  • War-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan had 17,00 and 16,00 casualties, respectively, in 2016.
  • Drug cartel rivalries became increasingly violent, leading to a rise in homicides in 22 of Mexico's 32 states during 2016.
  • U.S. drug sales in Mexico generate an estimated $19 to $29 billion annually for Mexican drug cartels.

Why it matters:

U.S. authorities have been fighting Mexican drug cartels since the beginning of the modern drug trade in the Americas. Meanwhile thousands of bystanders, people who refuse to join cartels, migrants, journalists, and government officials are increasingly being killed.