No. 7: Torreón, Mexico
A victim of Mexico's vicious drug war, the northern city of Torreón is now the scene of constant cartel-related killings as the country's drug lords battle for control of lucrative trafficking routes to Mexico's northern border. Last year, the city saw 88 homicides per every 100,000 residents. On a single Sunday afternoon in July, 10 people were killed in the city, five of whom were dismembered and two of whom were decapitated. And as the drug war has intensified, it has become increasingly difficult for normal citizens to escape the conflict.
No. 8: Chihuahua, Mexico
Situated about 150 miles from Mexico's border with Texas, the Mexican city of Chihuahua is a key transit point for cocaine heading toward the United States and, as a result, an important battleground for cartels interested in controlling drug-shipment routes. Violence in Chihuahua has become increasingly unhinged, reaching an average of 83 homicides per 100,000 residents. On April 15, for example, about 10 men dressed in tactical gear — complete with skull patches — stormed a bar and opened fire, killing 15 and wounding two, including two journalists, Francisco Javier Moya, the former news director at a radio station in Ciudad Juárez, and Hector Javier Salinas Aguirre, the owner of a news website. Nearly 50 journalists have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón came to power in 2006, and cartels increasingly target journalists who dare to report on the drug war.
No. 9: Durango, Mexico
In 2011, the sheer scale of Mexico's drug war found perhaps its most gruesome expression in a series of mass graves unearthed by authorities in the northern city of Durango. Authorities came across one in the backyard of an upscale home and another on the lot of an abandoned auto shop. After the discovery of these so-called fosas, which contained 340 bodies in total, Durango residents began submitting DNA tests to determine whether relatives who had disappeared were among the victims. Discovery is one thing, but it is extremely unlikely that anyone will be brought to justice for these crimes. When asked about the investigation, a spokesman for the state prosecutor told a reporter, "Anybody who might have seen something will never talk out of fear." When pressed about who owned the land where the bodies were found, he asked the reporter, "Do you want me to wake up alive tomorrow?" In 2011, the homicide rate in Durango reached 80 murders per every 100,000 residents.