Mexican officials are reportedly cooking the books to distort crime rates in the country

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Mexican state governments have consistently manipulated crime data to give the appearance that high-level crime has fallen, according to preliminary report findings by nonprofit statistics agency México Evalúa.

An analysis of data collected by the Mexican federal government since 1997 by James Patrick, an former Scotland Yard agent working with the nonprofit group, found malpractice in collecting and reporting crime in each of Mexico's 32 states.

Related: Rich countries with most organized crime problems

12 PHOTOS
11 rich countries with the biggest organized crime problems
See Gallery
11 rich countries with the biggest organized crime problems

11. Greece

Corruption score: 5.1

The country's huge shipping industry and proximity to Asia creates opportunities for smuggling.

(Photo via REUTERS/John Kolesidis)

10. France

 Corruption score: 5.1

France ranks worse than other large EU countries like Spain, the UK, and Germany. Its Corsican mafia was once heavily involved in the trafficking of heroin into the US, referred to as "the French Connection."

(Photo credit BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)

9. Israel

Corruption score: 5.1

Israel saw a spike in mafia activity from Russia as it encouraged the immigration from the country after the fall of the Soviet Union. Important figures like Zeev Rosenstein and Itzhak Abergil have been extradited to the US.

(Photo via REUTERS/Ariel Schalit/Pool)

8. Germany

Corruption score: 5.0

Organised crime is becoming more prevalent in Germany. There is also concern that gangs are targeting the country's new influx of migrants, and recruiting young males as drug dealers and runners. 

(Photo credit SEBASTIAN WILLNOW/AFP/Getty Images)

7. South Korea

Corruption score: 4.9

Gangs known as "Kkangpae" operate in South Korea. Like Japan's Yakuza, they also often have tattoos that identify their affiliation.

(Photo by Andrey Shchekalev via Getty Images)

6. United States of America

Corruption score: 4.9

Despite its wealth, the US is placed roughly in the middle of the global rankings for organised crime, in 70th place.

(Photo via REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

5. Slovak Republic

Corruption score: 4.9

Slovakia is the second-worst ranked country in Europe for organised crime. Three lists of organised-crime associates and groups have been leaked in the country. It ranks at 74th place, exactly halfway down the ranks.

(Photo by Richard Radford via Getty Images)

4. Turkey

Corruption score: 4.8

As a gateway into Europe, Turkey is a predictable route for drug trafficking from the east, which the Turkish mafia takes advantage of. Turkish organised criminals also have a presence in London, and the country takes 77th place.

(Photo via REUTERS/Stringer)

3. Hungary

Corruption score: 4.6

Like many other countries under former communist systems, Hungary experienced a surge in organised crime in the 1990s, as gangs sought to capitalise on the lack of order and the sudden emergence of massive commercial activity. 

(AP Photo/Zaltan Mihadak)

2. Italy

Corruption score: 3.5

Italy, the symbolic home of the Mafia, is by far the worst-ranking EU country for organised crime, coming in 122nd place of 138.

(Photo by Stefano Montesi/Corbis via Getty Images)

1. Mexico

Corruption score: 2.6

Powerful and violent cartels have brought Mexico to the edge of civil war.Only Honduras, Venezuela, and El Salvador fare worse than the country in the security index.

(Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The main method through which governments misrepresented crime rates was by inflating the number of lower-level crimes in order to make it appear like there had been fewer high-impact crimes, like kidnapping and intentional homicide.

Patrick also found in one case that criminal threats, accidental homicides, and intentional homicides varied in the same way over the years analyzed, which is an unlikely trend as there is no inherent correlation between those crimes. (Mexico keeps track of two kinds of homicide: homicidio doloso, i.e. an intentional killing, and homicidio culposo, i.e. a unintentional killing, as in a car crash.)

"There is an overall manipulation in data in all states in Mexico concerning all crimes," Patrick said during a presentation to media, according to El Universal.

juarez mexico policeREUTERS/Henry Romero

"All states have entered into a practice of manipulation, that consists of 'sub-reportage'; that is to say, that a state reports 100 homicides when in reality it had 283," said Jonathan Furzsyfer, coordinator for México Evalua's Security Program.

Another way to manipulate data, Furzsyfer added, is "'error in the classification'; generally violent crimes are classified as 'without violence,' in such a manner that the image of crime at the state level is a little less than what it really is."

Officials at every level have reason to misrepresent crime data in this way, Furzsyfer explained. Politicians are motivated to tout security gains in order to win votes, and police may alter data in order to meet quotas.

Acapulco Mexico homicide murder killingREUTERS/Henry Romero

Such distortions in crime reporting hinder the creation of effective anti-crime policy, as they exclude many crimes that are committed and obscure the actual trends in criminality.

México Evalua's research did confirm that Mexico's current homicide rate — based on data reported by the National Public Safety System, or SESNSP — is nearing the highs it saw during the 2006-2012 administration of former President Felipe Calderon, under whom Mexico saw its highest homicide rates.

Related: Life along Mexico's border with the United States

21 PHOTOS
Life along Mexico's border with the United States
See Gallery
Life along Mexico's border with the United States
IMPERIAL SAND DUNES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: A digger removes sand drifts from the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 28, 2016 in the Imperial Sand Dunes recreation center, California. Without daily removal of the sand, the dunes would cover the fence and undocumented immigrants and smugglers could simply walk over it. The border stretches almost 2,000 miles between Mexico and the United States. Border security and immigration issues have become major issues in the U.S. Presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People meet loved ones through the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side in San Diego on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Haitian refugees look over donated items at an immigrant center on September 24, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. In recent months a surge of Haitian refugees has arrived to Tijuana, seeking asylum at the border crossing into the United States. The center, called the Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava, serves breakfast to more than 1,000 immigrants daily, many of them deportees from the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
IMPERIAL SAND DUNES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: A digger removes sand drifts along the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 28, 2016 in the Imperial Sand Dunes recreation center, California. Without daily removal of the sand, the dunes would cover the fence and undocumented immigrants and smugglers could simply walk over it. The border stretches almost 2,000 miles between Mexico and the United States. Border security and immigration issues have become major issues in the U.S. Presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People enjoy a late afternoon near the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park, located on the border between the two countries is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Immigrants, many of them deportees from the United States, eat breakfast at a soup kitchen on September 24, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The center, called the Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava, is run by a Catholic order of priests and feeds more than than 1,000 immigrants each morning. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 24: People stand in line to cross legally into the United States from Mexico on September 24, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Securing the border and controlling illegal immigration have become key issues in the U.S. Presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A couple holds hands while meeting loved ones through the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side in San Diego on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People enjoy a late afternoon near the U.S.-Mexico border fence which ends in the Pacific Ocean on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park, located on the border between the two countries is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Mexicans enjoy a late afternoon near the U.S.-Mexico border fence which ends in the Pacific Ocean on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park, located on the border between the two countries is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A child plays in the Pacific surf near the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The nearby Friendship Park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Immigrant activists pray at the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side in San Diego on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Maria Rodriguez Torres, 70, embraces a grandchild after seeing her other grandchildren for the first time through the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. She had traveled with family members from Mexico City to see her grandchildren through the fence at 'Friendship Park.' The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
JACAMBA HOT SPRINGS, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Residents line up to receive free food at mobile food pantry near the U.S.-Mexico border on September 26, 2016 in Jacamba Hot Springs, California. The Feeding America truck delivers to the border town's needy residents twice a month. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
JACAMBA HOT SPRINGS, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle stands guard along the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 26, 2016 in Jacamba Hot Springs, California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
JACAMBA HOT SPRINGS, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 26: A cardboard cutout of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is on display at a debate-watching party for supporters of Hillary Clinton at the Yum Yum Chinese restaurant near the U.S.-Mexico border on September 26, 2016 in Calexico, California. People across the country tuned in as Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton participated in their first debate. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
HOLTVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: Mexican farm workers hoe a cabbage field on September 27, 2016 Holtville, California. Thousands of Mexican seasonal workers legally cross the border daily from Mexicali, Mexico to work the fields of Imperial Valley, California, some of the most productive farmland in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
HOLTVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: A A Mexican farm worker plows a U.S. farm on September 27, 2016 in Holtville, California. Thousands of Mexican seasonal workers legally cross the border daily from Mexicali, Mexico to work the fields of Imperial Valley, California, some of the most productive farmland in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
HOLTVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: A marker stands over an immigrant's grave on September 27, 2016 in Holtville, California. Hundreds of immigrants, many who died while crossing the desert from Mexico into the United States, are buried in a pauper's cemetery. Many of the grave markers simply read 'John Doe.' (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A man looks through the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the United States on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park on the border is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Mexico has two official homicide sources, the SESNSP and the national statistical board, or INEGI. SESNSP data comes from law-enforcement sources, while INEGI gets its data from death certificates.

While the SESNSP releases data more often, the INEGI is considered more reliable, and México Evalua recommends creating a body modeled on it to address misrepresentations in federal crime data.

After registering declines in 2013 and 2014, the first two years of current President Enrique Peña Nieto's term, homicides in Mexico have ticked up.

Mexico crime mass graveREUTERS/Henry Romero

"In the last two years, the homicide rate between 2014 and 2016 is growing at its fastest rate during that period," Furzsyfer said. "We're basically just 200 homicides shy from reaching the worst period in Felipe Calderon's administration."

Mexico has seen record highs for homicides in July, August, and September this year. The 1,974 homicide cases registered in September were the most seen since the 1,993 recorded in May 2012. The 2,187 victims of intentional homicide in September were the most the country has had since it started releasing that statistic in 2014.

The México Evalua report also noted that Mexico's justice system was hindered by barriers to victims who want to report crimes and the system to report them is disorganized.

Pena Nieto MexicoREUTERS/Henry Romero

This dynamic creates underreporting of crime and impunity for criminality.

According to a report from the Center for Impunity and Justice Studies (CESIJ) released earlier this year, only seven of every 100 crimes in Mexico is reported, and only 4.46% of the crimes that were reported resulted in a conviction.

The CESIJ estimated that "less than 1% of crimes in Mexico are punished."

This is not the first time the conflation of high- and low-level crime has been used to misrepresent Mexico's true crime rates.

During his third state of the union speech in September 2015, Peña Nieto touted his government's fight against crime as responsible for 2014 seeing the country's second-lowest crime statistics in 17 years, but that claim relied on comparing those two different categories.

More from Business Insider:

SEE ALSO: Mexico's biggest cartel is leaderless, and drug violence may be about to intensify

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners