Viridiana Rios
International Relations and Security Network
October 14, 2010

Hired assassins in Mexico are willing to work for suppressed wages not so much out of economic desperation but because murder-for-hire has proven to be a gateway to more lucrative criminal activity. Factor in the uncontrollable flow of arms and the unlikelihood of criminal prosecution, and the assassination business is booming.

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How much does a hit man costs? “It depends on the type of hit man,” Alfredo Quijano, the editor of El Norte, a local newspaper from Juarez, México, said. “The good ones are expensive, but you can always find someone who would do the work for 75 or 150 euros.” For 150 euros, an inexpert gang member can get a low profile target killed; for 15,000, an expert can kill the chief of police in Mexico City, or at least that is what the hit man who killed Mr Robles Liceaga, the chief of police in Mexico City until 2002, said he was paid.

The cost of an assassination in Mexico is unusually low. Indeed, hired assassins in other regions of the world get much more. A study by the National Institute of Criminology in South Australia showed that the median salary of a hit man in Australia is 9,800 euros – although it can reach 60,000 per task. Hit men’s salaries in Spain are also high. According to government statistics, there are about 40 assassinations done by hit men a year, each one at a price of between 20 and 50,000 euros.

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Indeed, developed countries tend to offer better salaries in all professions – not just to hit men. Yet, even when accounting for income differences, Mexican hit men are underpaid. In other Latin American countries such as Argentina, where the GDP per capita and income inequality levels are similar to those in Mexico, hit men are paid between 2,700 and 4,000 euros per event. Under any standard, assassination in Mexico is a bargain.

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