Investigators opened 25,339 murder probes last year, up nearly 25 percent from the 2016 tally, Interior Ministry data released on Saturday showed. It was the highest annual total since the government began counting murders in 1997.
There were 40 percent more murder investigations opened last year as compared with 2013, Peña Nieto’s first full year in office.
On Thursday, Mexico dismissed a claim by U.S. President Donald Trump that it was the most dangerous country in the world.
Violence is a central issue in July’s presidential election, as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faces an uphill battle to keep his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in office.
The most deadly states were Guerrero in the south, followed by the heavily-populated central State of Mexico, and Baja California in the northwest.
As a comparison, the expanding drug war in Mexico claimed 23,000 lives during 2016, according to the annual Armed Conflict Survey by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS.
The drug war began in late 2006 when former President Felipe Calderon unleashed the military on the country's drug cartels — a move immediately backed by a US$1.8 billion military aid package by former U.S. President George W. Bush. Washington provided further annual drug war aid to Mexico through the Merida Initiative since.
In comparison, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively in 2016.
Peña Nieto picked off where Calderon left off, continuing a drug war that has also seen disappearances, torture, rape and systematic impunity.
The militarized drug war also coincides with the crisis against journalists in the country, who often report on its resulting violence — only to be attacked, or as is often the case, murdered.