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Nearly 2,000 people were murdered in Sonora in 2021, setting alarming new record

It’s been clear for several months that Sonora was going to set a new record for murder in 2021, but now the official tally is in: an astonishing 1,930 murder victims, according to recently released federal data. It’s a more than 20% increase over last year’s record total, and one of the sharpest year-to-year rises in Mexico.

With the full year now in, Sonora had Mexico’s fourth highest murder rate in 2021.

But the state was far from uniformly violent.

“We need to improve in Cajeme,” said Mexican Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez of the southern Sonora municipality, home to the state’s second-largest city Ciudad Obregon. Among the 50 Mexican cities officials are monitoring for murder, it showed the sharpest rise in the second half of 2021.

But the capital Hermosillo showed a significant decline from 2020, as did Caborca, where violence has surged in recent years, the new data show. 

Murphy Woodhouse was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.