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Organized Crime Tracker Partners With UCSD’s Mexico Violence Resource Project

Customs and Border Protection officers stand with shields at the border cross...

Photo by Gregory Bull / AP

Above: Customs and Border Protection officers stand with shields at the border crossing, Monday, March 1, 2021, seen from Tijuana, Mexico.

A UC San Diego initiative has partnered with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime to support research and policy advocacy on issues surrounding violence, crime and governance in Mexico, it was announced Thursday.

The Mexico Violence Resource Project, began last fall by UCSD's Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, has the stated goal of facilitating better analysis of the facts on the ground of our neighbor to the south.

The funding from the Global Initiative is intended to allow the research effort to establish projects with journalists and other partners in Mexico. These collaborators are intended to conduct investigations into the causes and consequences of violence in regions, which are often rarely examined and poorly understood.

A UCSD spokesman said the amount of funding wasn't available to the public at this time.

"The Mexico Violence Resource Project is a collaborative effort to connect researchers, policymakers, civil society and the media and provide clear analysis of security issues in Mexico," said Rafael Fernandez de Castro, director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, based at the School of Global Policy and Strategy. "We are very grateful for the support from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and the innovative partnership we have formed with the organization on its first long-term project researching crime and violence in Mexico."

The agreement represents a major step in expanding the Global Initiative's work in Latin America. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the partnership with USMEX signifies a commitment from the organization to produce original insights on the causes, consequences of, and responses to organized crime in Mexico.

"Mexico is a key country to understand the transnational dynamics of organized crime," said Mark Shaw, director of Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. "It is also a great place to learn about resilience and community responses to crime. This partnership will help us further our dialogues with the different actors engaged in countering violence and its effects on local communities."

The Mexico Violence Resource Project is a source for statistics on crime and violence, providing information such as the number of homicides, missing persons, costs of violence, judicial records and firearm information. With the new partnership, the project will broaden its data collection and mapping efforts to generate additional analysis on trends in crime.

One of the first initiatives from the partnership will be a dossier explaining violence in Tijuana.

"Because of where we are located, we really want to leverage our collective expertise to explore what is going on here in the region," said Cecilia Farfan-Mendez, head of Security Research Programs at USMEX and co-founder of the Mexico Violence Resource Project.

With the support of Global Initiative, USMEX leaders said they will be able to strengthen collaborations with photographers, artists, and civil society activists to take a deeper look at violence in Tijuana and the larger Mexico region, beyond a narrative that almost exclusively focuses on narcotrafficking.

"This gives us the opportunity to help journalists work outside the news cycle, and work on in-depth stories that would not otherwise be developed," said Michael Lettieri, senior fellow for Human Rights at USMEX and project cofounder. "These on-the-ground relationships are at the heart of the mission of the Mexico Violence Resource Project, and a core part of the Global Initiative's strategy."

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