Reyna Sanchez, 15, on the way to her quinceneara (15th birthday party) in Colonia Zapata, one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden neighborhoods of Acapulco.

Josefina Campa heads home after working in a maquilla factory in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Over a decade ago factories and free trade zones established in US-Mexico border cities like Juarez led to an influx of low wage, largely female workers from poor, rural areas of Mexico. These women,  alone and anonymous in the big city, become easy prey to drug gang violence and recruitment.

Guadalupe Sujey Castillo Flores, a 22 year old newlywed woman who was killed by a stray bullet in Ciudad Juarez.

The mother and aunts of 22-year-old newlywed Guadalupe Sujey Castillo Flores mourn at Sujey’s funeral.

Nancy Diaz Bustamante and her daughter Melissa Rivera at home in Ciudad Juarez. Nancy’s husband Gonzalo Rivera, a father of four, was recently killed at the funeral of a family friend.

An inmate and her daughter in the Ciudad Juarez Women’s Prison. More women are participating in Mexico’s drug war than ever before, and more are getting arrested.

A crime scene in Ciudad Juarez. Ciudad Juarez, only a taxi ride away from El Paso, Texas, was the deadliest city in Mexico at the time, with approximately 3,000 murdered in 2010 alone.

Missing Person signs outside of the Ciudad Juarez Attorney General’s Office for Cinthia Jocabeth Alvarado, 13 years old, who went missing in 2008.

A body, one of 30 found murdered that day alone, is unloaded at the morgue in Acapulco.

A young girl watches an ambulance drive by in the Anapra neighborhood of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

School girls socialize after class in Acapulco, Mexico. Earlier that week a record-breaking day of violence shook the coastal city, with more than 30 bodies found dumped across Acapulco, many missing their heads.

A young family at a memorial in the Plaza Melchor Ocampo of Morelia, Mexico on Day of the Dead. In 2008 the plaza was attacked with grenades by the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana. Eight people were killed and over 100 were wounded.

Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro, Michoacan. Four days earlier over 18 were killed in nearby shoot-outs. The Mexican state of Michoacan is one of the country’s most violence plagued regions in Mexico.

A young boy in the Montana region of Guerrero, Mexico, where opium poppies grow nearby. Daily life in the region is defined by extreme poverty, drug trafficking and military harassment.

Women march at the Revolutionary Day parade in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in 2010, at the height of reported drug war related violence in the city.

Innocence Assassinated: Living in Mexico’s Drug War by Katie Orlinsky

Mexico’s drug war is more than an armed conflict. It is a humanitarian crisis that has changed the lives of tens of thousands of innocent people. “Innocence Assassinated” focuses on the living victims of the war: orphans, widows, female inmates and young people growing up in neighborhoods inundated by drug gang violence, and explores the culture of violence against women, misogyny and systemic poverty that has entrenched the drug war into the fabric of Mexican society.

The feminization of the drug war is an important facet of this emergency. Women have been widowed at alarming rates, left to fend for themselves in a shattered economy. Some are easily lured into criminal activity such as drug trafficking and kidnapping, at times the only financial options available to support their children and elderly parents. Since 2006 there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of women imprisoned for federal crimes in Mexico. In addition, there are countless children that have been orphaned and scarred by a childhood engulfed with violence and insecurity.

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