Earlier this year, the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego released “Drug Violence in Mexico,” a report by the institute’s Cory Molzahn, Viridiana Rios and David A. Shirk. Looking for broader perspective on the estimated 50,000 drug-war killings in Mexico since December 2006, the researchers compared Mexico’s overall homicide statistics with other nations’.

They found that Mexico’s overall homicide rate was about 18 per 100,000 inhabitants — “uncomfortably high,” yet also “about average for the hemisphere.”

In fact, that figure matches rates for the city of Los Angeles in the troubled early 1990s. And Mexico’s figures, the report found, are lower than the reported homicide rates for Honduras (82 per 100,000); El Salvador (66), Venezuela (49); Belize (41); Guatemala (41); Colombia (33); the Bahamas (28); Brazil (22); and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico (26).

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The tourist district of Tijuana, Baja California. Photo by Jason Clampet.

For the U.S. as a whole, the reported homicide rate was 5 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Four countries in the Western Hemisphere had lower reported homicide rates than the U.S.: Canada (1.8 per 100,000 inhabitants), Chile, Martinique and Cuba. For more information on homicide worldwide, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a detailed report.

And let’s get back for a minute to Los Angeles, where crime rates have been falling steadily. LAPD statistics for 2010 showed a homicide rate of 7.4 per 100,000 inhabitants.

(c)2012 the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services