The violence of Mexico's drug war has claimed the lives of nearly 8,000 people in just three months, further substantiating the U.S. State Department's "Do Not Travel" recommendation.
According to Yahoo News, approximately "7,667 people were killed in Mexico in the first quarter of 2018, up 20 percent on the same period last year, making it the most violent year in two decades, government figures showed Sunday."
The horrifying numbers increased from last year by over 1,000 violent deaths. At this time in 2017, the figure stood at 6,406.
"The worst month was March, when 2,729 people were killed, most of them shot dead. January's figure stood at 2,549 murders, with another 2,389 in February," reports Yahoo News. "The bloodshed follows a proliferation of gangs involved in drug trafficking, as well as stealing fuel, kidnappings, extortion and other criminal activities."
Should the bloodbath continue, the entirety of 2018 could very well top Mexico's 2017's death toll of 25,339 — the highest number since Mexico began gathering statistics 10 years ago.
In 2017, as the death toll tallied, Francisco Rivas, director of the Mexican research group the National Citizens' Observatory, said the spike "comes back to a failed security strategy that has been completely exhausted."
Even though the numbers are high, this does not make Mexico the most violent state in Central America. As noted by NPR, "Outside of war zones, El Salvador recorded the highest homicide rate of any country — 109 per 100,000 inhabitants — in 2015, the last year for which the United Nations provides global data. That year, Mexico registered 16 homicides per 100,000 people, behind other Latin American countries like Honduras, Venezuela and Brazil. With the new statistics from 2017, analysts estimate Mexico's rate climbed to roughly 24 per 100,000 inhabitants."
The State Department currently lists five of Mexico's 32 states under "Do Not Travel."