drug cartels explainer el chapo sinaloa los zetas juarez nueva generacion orig_00010705.jpg
Mexico's most dangerous drug cartels
01:29 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Mexico recorded more than 33,000 homicides in 2018, the highest number since the country began keeping records.

There were 33,341 homicides in 2018, according to a report released by Mexico’s Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection. That compares with 28,866 homicides in 2017 – an increase of more than 15%.

The number of femicides – the killing of females because of their gender – also climbed, reaching 861 in 2018, compared with 759 in 2017.

Many of the homicides are linked to drug cartel violence. The Mexican government has been fighting a war with drug traffickers since 2006. At the same time, drug cartels have fought each other for control of territory.

In 2017, Mexican authorities uncovered a mass grave with more than 250 skulls, most likely the victims of drugs cartels over the years.

Targeted journalists

Last year also proved a deadly one for reporters in Mexico, with nine journalists killed in 2018. One has already been killed in 2019.

Rafael Murua Manríquez’s body was found in Baja California Sur, a statement from the state attorney general said. He was reported missing Saturday, said Jan-Albert Hootsen, the representative for Mexico on the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists.

The attorney general’s statement said Murua’s body was found with “various perforations on the thorax.” An investigation is underway.

In November Murua said in a blog post that he had received threats after publishing his reports.

“Working journalism in Santa Rosalína has brought me so much satisfaction, including a professional title, but it also brought several death threats, attempts to censor in the most dictatorial style,” he wrote in the blog.