Nuevo León is a northeastern state in Mexico, bordering Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi to the south-west, Coahuila to the north-west and Tamaulipas to the East. It also shares a short 9-mile border with Texas to the north. Nuevo León is made up of 51 municipalities with the capital, Monterrey, being the largest urban center in the state. The population, as of 2018, was 5,454,848, with a high concentration around the Monterrey metropolitan area.
Disappearances in Nuevo León
The most up-to-date data on enforced disappearances in Nuevo Leon can be found through Registro Nacional de Personas Desaparecidas y No Localizadas (RNPED), a national registry of disappeared and missing persons maintained by the Mexican federal government since 1964. For a case to be considered a disappearance, the individual reported missing must be missing for at least 48 hours. As of August 19, 2020, there were 4,374 people reported as missing or disappeared in Nuevo Leon.
(The infographics below represent the findings from the press database alone and do not include NGO database findings.)
Drawing upon the Observatory’s two databases on Nuevo Leon -- constructed from NGO and press information-- we find that disappearances are widespread throughout the state’s municipalities. NGOs reported disappearances in 28 of the 51 municipalities in Nuevo León and the press database showed disappearances in 21 of the 51 municipalities.
The Observatory on Disappearances and Impunity in Mexico used findings from the NGO, Citizens in Support of Human Rights B.C. (CADHAC), in their 2017 report on Nuevo León. This report discussed the trends of disappearances in the state and dispelled many common myths surrounding disappearances. Unfortunately, many cases of disappearances go unreported and the researchers acknowledged limitations with this dataset. The Press Database provides a complementary source of public information about Nuevo León.
The Observatory’s NGO database is made up of 548 cases of people that disappeared between 2005-2015 in Nuevo León, with a few counted from nearby states like Coahuila or Tamualipas. The majority of the people represented in the data set were young men. Men, overall, made up 86.6% of the disappearance cases in the dataset. Of the men whose age was known (72% of men in the dataset), 59% of the victims are between the ages of 18 and 33. The oldest victim in the sample was 70 and the youngest was 3 years old.
Data from the press database reveal similar findings, suggesting that young men account for a large majority of the disappearances in the state. According to the information collected from press accounts in Nuevo León, in 7 of 10 (70%) cases the victim was male, while in 3 of 10 (28%) victims were women. Two victims were identified as transgender. Of victims whose age was reported (65% of victims in the dataset), 20% were between the ages of 10 and 17 and 30% were between the ages of 18 to 25.
The Observatory’s NGO database found that, when information was available concerning perpetrators, government agents were involved in 48% cases (this includes cases where state actors colluded with private actors). Such data dispelled the common myth that disappearances were only carried out by criminal organizations, without the involvement of state agents. The data further showed that, of those cases in which perpetrators were government agents, 49% were municipal agents, 25% were state agents and 26% were federal agents.
The press database findings support this pattern. When the press named one or more suspected perpetrators (59%, 96 cases), they reported that a state actor was involved in 36% of the cases: In 15% (14 cases) the perpetrator was exclusively a state actor and in 21% (20 cases) the state actor colluded with private criminal actors. Concerning responsible state actors, the press corroborated the Observatory’s NGO database --municipal agents the most frequently reported state actor (27 cases). Los Zetas were the most commonly reported private actor group-- implicated in 28 cases.
Another unfounded myth about disappearances suggested that victims in the state had left of their own volition and would reappear. The data collected from NGOs on disappearance in Nuevo León disproved this narrative because 75.91% of the cases remained unresolved. Only 12.41% of disappeared persons were found alive and 11.68% were found dead. The press reports align with these findings. The victim remains disappeared in 61% of cases (if the press did not report an outcome, the victim was assumed to remain missing). In 21% of cases the victim was found deceased and only 18% of victims were found alive.