MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico said on Wednesday that killings linked to organized crime fell 14 percent to 4,249 in the first four months of the presidency of Enrique Pena Nieto, who has vowed to quickly reduce the menace posed by drug cartels.
The figure refers to killings from December 2012 through March 2013, and compares to the 4,934 organized crime-related killings during the same period a year earlier, said Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong.
“It’s still too early to adopt a triumphalist attitude,” said Osorio Chong. “The trend is there, but it’s still early and it could surprise us and pick up tomorrow, or even fall.”
Pena Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Calderon, staked his reputation on bringing the drug gangs to heel, sending in the army to crush them soon after taking office in December 2006.
Homicides initially fell under Calderon too, but later jumped sharply and by the end of his term more than 60,000 people had been killed in drug-related violence.
Pena Nieto has vowed to curb the violence, though he has put the stress on reducing murder, kidnapping and extortion rather than focusing on the drug gangs. He has dismissed any talk of reaching some sort of truce with the cartels, however.
During the final four months of Calderon’s term, there were 5,127 homicides linked to organized crime, Osorio Chong said.
Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Todd Eastham