Study Lists Tijuana as World Murder Capital in 2018

Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro looks on near where a border wall ends that separates th
AP Photo/Gregory Bull

Tijuana is listed as the deadliest city in the world per capita based on its 2018 registered homicide count, according to a new study released this week by the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice (El Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal).

The report ranks the 50 deadliest cities in the world with Mexican municipalities showing in five of the top six and nine of the top 20. The Tijuana metropolitan area was listed at number one with 2,640 homicides in 2018 at a rate of 138 per 100,000.

In 2017, Tijuana was ranked as the fifth deadliest city, with the popular beach resort city of Los Cabos occupying the top spot with 365 homicides in 2017 with a per capita rate of 111. In December of 2017, the Mexican federal government was forced to deploy elements of its military and police after cartel gunmen hung the bodies of six men from three overpasses and left narco-messages in La Paz and Cabo. The gory scenes greeted morning commuters and sent shockwaves throughout the region. In 2018 the homicide numbers plunged, dropping Los Cabos from the list. Mexico City claimed credit for the dramatic decrease, but Breitbart local law enforcement contacts attributed the the local dominant cartel’s expelling of rivals. Other beach resort locations like La Paz and Mazatlán also dropped from the top 50 in 2018 whereas Cancún is still mired in a narco-war—standing at 13th place after not being on the list in 2017.

The Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice is a private NGO which began releasing annual listings in 2008 and measures homicides committed per 100,000 inhabitants in urban locales larger than 300,000 residents. Other violent crimes are not tallied.

The top 50 cities include 15 from Mexico and four from the United States. The highest listed domestic city is St. Louis at number 15 with Baltimore, Detroit, and New Orleans not far behind. San Juan, Puerto Rico also makes the cut.

Critics of the report say the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice is not an official source and can vary in counting methodology from local governments. Tijuana area business interests asked that the report not be disseminated, according to local reporting. Tijuana is currently seeing a decrease in homicides in 2019 after the federal government deployed additional military and law enforcement assets there.

The three Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador did not have a city listed in the top 20.

2018 Homicides Per Capita Rankings (Homicide Cases)

  1. Tijuana, MX (2,640)
  2. Acapulco, MX (948)
  3. Caracas, VZ (2,980
  4. Victoria, MX (314)
  5. Juárez, MX (1,251)
  6. Irapuato, MX (473)
  7. Guayana, VZ (645)
  8. Natal, BR (1,185)
  9. Fortaleza, BR (2,724)
  10. Ciudad Bolívar, VZ (264)
  11. Cape Town, SA (2,868)
  12. Belem, BR (1,627)
  13. Cancún, MX (547)
  14. Feira de Santana, BR (386)
  15. St. Louis, US (187)
  16. Culiacan, MX (585)
  17. Barquisimeto, VZ (683)
  18. Uruapan, MX (189)
  19. Kingston, JM (639)
  20. Obregon, MX (179)

Baltimore (23rd), San Juan (40th), Detroit (46th), and New Orleans (50th) each posted at least 140 homicides in 2018.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at


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