Mexico recorded more than 34,000 homicides in 2019, a new record. The Mexican underworld of killers, victims and law enforcement authorities expose the roots of Mexico's homicide epidemic. It is a complicated portrait of a changing criminal landscape that is dominated by a deadly domestic drug market within Mexico, the rise of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and the constant illegal flow of weapons from the United States.

1.	A paramedic and police officer look at the body of a man found dead with five gunshot wounds to the back and legs in colonia Los Valle, Tijuana. Mexico recorded more than 34,000 homicides in 2019, a new record

A paramedic and police officer look at the body of a man found dead with five gunshot wounds to the back and legs in colonia Los Valle, Tijuana. Mexico recorded more than 34,000 homicides in 2019, a new record.

Local residence watch Tijuana paramedics give medical attention to two gunshot victims in colonia El Dorado, Tijuana. In 2018, Tijuana, a population of roughly 1.8 million people, tallied 2518 homicides, the most ever recorde

Local residence watch Tijuana paramedics give medical attention to two gunshot victims in colonia El Dorado, Tijuana. In 2018, Tijuana, a population of roughly 1.8 million people, tallied 2518 homicides, the most ever recorded in a Mexican City. With 133 killings for every 100,000 people, it is now one of the deadliest cities in the world. Driving the killings is competition among Mexican cartels fighting over the local drug market.

Paramedics transport Abel Arenas Enriquez, 55, who was shot four times, twice in the back and once in each arm, to Tijuana General Hospital, where he later died.

Paramedics transport Abel Arenas Enriquez, 55, who was shot four times, twice in the back and once in each arm, to Tijuana General Hospital, where he later died.

Crime scene investigators gather evidence where a male taxi driver, roughly 25 years of age, was shot and left for dead in colonia Las Cruces in Acapulco. For years, Acapulco was the murder capital of Mexico, with 874 homicid
Crime scene investigators gather evidence where a male taxi driver, roughly 25 years of age, was shot and left for dead in colonia Las Cruces in Acapulco. For years, Acapulco was the murder capital of Mexico, with 874 homicide cases opened in 2018, up slightly from the year before.

A homicide victim shot in the head execution style lies on the medical examiners table awaiting an autopsy at the Tijuana morgue. There is room for 120 cadavers in the morgue; on this day, there were 134 bodies

A homicide victim shot in the head execution style lies on the medical examiners table awaiting an autopsy at the Tijuana morgue. There is room for 120 cadavers in the morgue; on this day, there were 134 bodies.

​Cadavers stacked in refrigeration units in the Tijuana morgue. Morgue workers burn incense, run air purifiers and dispense dust masks to visitors to battle the stench of death, but at times bodies pile up on the floor and th

Cadavers stacked in refrigeration units in the Tijuana morgue. Morgue workers burn incense, run air purifiers and dispense dust masks to visitors to battle the stench of death, but at times bodies pile up on the floor and the smell seeps outside, sickening neighbors down the street.

Bertha Peña, 59, right, shown with daughter Dulce Noriega, left, weeps over her son Rafael Noriega Peña, 40, at a funeral home in Tijuana. Rafael, a father of five, was found dead in his room in the back of Bertha's house. A

Bertha Peña, 59, right, shown with daughter Dulce Noriega, left, weeps over her son Rafael Noriega Peña, 40, at a funeral home in Tijuana. Rafael, a father of five, was found dead in his room in the back of Bertha's house. A few months before Noriega had left a drug rehabilitation center where he was treated for his methamphetamine addiction.

An arms dealer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he buys pistols and revolvers on the black market and resells them for up to $800 in Tepito, a working-class neighborhood in Mexico City. On occasion, he said, he has

An arms dealer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he buys pistols and revolvers on the black market and resells them for up to $800 in Tepito, a working-class neighborhood in Mexico City. On occasion, he said, he has worked as a hired killer, charging $5,000 a hit. The majority of guns circulating in Mexico were purchased in the U.S. and smuggled illegally across the border.

​A paramedic checks the vital signs of a deceased male, roughly 35, who was shot in the back of the head in a neighborhood known as Generación 2000 on the outskirts of Tijuana.

A paramedic checks the vital signs of a deceased male, roughly 35, who was shot in the back of the head in a neighborhood known as Generación 2000 on the outskirts of Tijuana.

Concepción Ventura, left, shown with daughter Aidali Jeronimo, 21, and husband Daniel Lopez, react after finding out her son Jonathan Ventura Citalan, 18, was shot and killed in front of their Tijuana home. Jonathan was invol

Concepción Ventura, left, shown with daughter Aidali Jeronimo, 21, and husband Daniel Lopez, react after finding out her son Jonathan Ventura Citalan, 18, was shot and killed in front of their Tijuana home. Jonathan was involved in low-level drug dealing, the family said. Cheap methamphetamine has flooded Tijuana in recent years, with small-time dealers dying over the right to sell it.

A specialized police unit frisk people for drugs and firearms in Tijuana's red-light district. Stop-and-frisk raids like this one are among Tijuana’s primary tactics to reduce violence and local drug deals.​

A specialized police unit frisk people for drugs and firearms in Tijuana's red-light district. Stop-and-frisk raids like this one are among Tijuana’s primary tactics to reduce violence and local drug deals.

A specialized police unit frisk people for drugs and firearms in Tijuana's red-light district.​

A specialized police unit frisk people for drugs and firearms in Tijuana's red-light district.

Jesús Castro prays for his well-being and for his family at the Jesús Malverde chapel in Culiacán, Sinaloa, where members of the Sinaloa drug cartel seized the city in late 2019 after a botched effort by Mexican forces to arr

Jesús Castro prays for his well-being and for his family at the Jesús Malverde chapel in Culiacán, Sinaloa, where members of the Sinaloa drug cartel seized the city in late 2019 after a botched effort by Mexican forces to arrest one of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's son. Malverde has been adopted as the patron saint of northern Mexico's illegal drug trade.

Tijuana police investigate a homicide in the Ampliacion Guaycura neighborhood in Tijuana.

Tijuana police investigate a homicide in the Ampliacion Guaycura neighborhood in Tijuana.

​Cruz Roja paramedics work on a male, around 28, with five gunshot wounds to the back and legs, who was pronounced dead in the Los Valle neighborhood of Tijuana.

Cruz Roja paramedics work on a male, around 28, with five gunshot wounds to the back and legs, who was pronounced dead in the Los Valle neighborhood of Tijuana.

​A homicide victim shot in the head execution style lies on the medical examiners table awaiting an autopsy at the Tijuana morgue.

A homicide victim shot in the head execution style lies on the medical examiners table awaiting an autopsy at the Tijuana morgue.

​A cluster of mass graves where unidentified bodies — the majority of them homicide victims — have been buried by morgue officials. Roughly 120-140 bodies are transported monthly, buried 20 deep in each grave.

A cluster of mass graves where unidentified bodies — the majority of them homicide victims — have been buried by morgue officials. Roughly 120-140 bodies are transported monthly, buried 20 deep in each grave.

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