MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's top security official said Friday that far fewer people disappeared during Mexico's drug war than were feared when the government released a list of about 26,000 cases.
Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said federal and state governments are working to weed out people who have been located. He noted that many of those included on the original list of 26,121 released earlier this year had left home for personal reasons or emigrated.
He says a new list will be released with a few months and "it will be much lower."
The list was compiled by the administration of former President Felipe Calderon, and largely covers disappearance reports from his 2006-2102 term. Osorio Chong said some of the people on the list had returned to their families, but relatives never bothered to cancel the original missing person report.
The issue has become a sensitive one in Mexico, where kidnappings are rife and thousands of people say their relatives have been abducted by drug gangs.
Osorio Chong also claimed that the number of deaths related to the drug war has been steadily dropping, and he expects that by the end of the month, figures would be about 20 percent lower than the same period of 2012. He said figures show about 34 drug-related killings per day so far in May, down from 41 in the same period in 2012.
However, experts have questioned what they say is atypical behavior in the statistics.
The Interior Department reported in April that drug-related deaths fell 14 percent from December to March, as compared to the same period a year earlier. But non-drug-related deaths rose by 6.8 percent during the same period, raising the question of whether some deaths were reclassified to improve the country's image and to help President Enrique Pena Nieto appear to meet a key campaign pledge: to reduce drug-related violence.