Firearms and Extortions in Mexico, 2012 to 2021

Weigend Vargas E, Pérez Ricart C, Portugal J, Goldstick JE. Firearms and Extortions in Mexico, 2012 to 2021. J Interpers Violence. 2024 Apr 16:8862605241246005. doi: 10.1177/08862605241246005. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38624094.


The study of firearm violence in Mexico has primarily focused on homicides and trafficking. Less attention has been given to understanding how firearms affect other crimes and facilitate criminal activity beyond drug markets. By analyzing two questions, this study explores the role of firearms in extortions perpetrated in Mexico from 2012 to 2021. Questions are: What is the likelihood of reporting extortions to the police if offenders exhibited firearms? What is the likelihood of compliance with demands when offenders are armed with firearms? We obtained data from Mexico’s National Crime Victimization Surveys and analyzed 2,619 extortions reported from 2012 to 2021. To explore our research questions, we ran two binary logistic regressions. Our dependent variables were dichotomous (reported to police = 1, complied with demands = 1). The independent variables were weapon types (extortions involving firearms as the reference group). We controlled for victim demographics as well as crime characteristics. Our results indicate that 40% of these extortions (n = 1,058) were perpetrated with a firearm. Fifty-two percent of extortions were perpetrated by unarmed offenders (n = 1,348) and 8% (n = 213) were perpetrated with other weapons (no firearms). Models suggest that, when compared to extortions perpetrated by unarmed offenders or those exhibiting other weapons (no firearms), victims of extortions involving firearms are less likely to report these crimes to police, mainly because of fear of reprisal. Similarly, victims are more likely to comply with demands if offenders exhibit firearms. Findings highlight the role of firearms in criminal enterprises and support the need for a comprehensive policy agenda to address firearm violence in Mexico.

Keywords: extortions; police reporting; victim compliance; victimization surveys; violence