MEXICO CITY — Mexico has confirmed that 2019 was its most murderous year in recent history as homicides ticked up 2.7 percent during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's first full year in office.

The National System of Public Security said late Monday that 35,588 people were victims of homicides last year, 2.7 percent more than the previous year. That includes 1,006 women targeted in “femicides,” or killings committed because of the victims’ gender.

In addition, nearly 5,000 people disappeared in Mexico in 2019 and were not found.

Authorities opened the highest number of murder investigations last year since they started keeping such data in 1997.

López Obrador has acknowledged his government’s failure to bring down the homicide rate but said Tuesday that other problems were more important.

“I think that the bigger damage has been done by white-collar criminals, whether politicians or businessmen who call themselves entrepreneurs,” the leftist leader said at his daily news conference.

Violence has surged in recent years as some organized-crime groups have fragmented into warring cells and criminal ­organizations have diversified. Whereas they once focused on shipping drugs to the United States, many now also engage in predatory crimes in Mexico, including extortion, kidnapping and retail drug sales.

Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez, the director of the consulting firm Lantia, said the latest figures showed that the homicide rate was at least growing at a slower pace than in the past. Homicides surged 17 percent in 2018 but rose less than 3 percent last year. “That’s very important,” he said in an interview.

And López Obrador’s plan to use social programs to wean young people off crime appeared to be having some effect in lowering street crime, he said. But it isn’t hurting organized-crime groups, which are responsible for most killings.

“There is no clarity or objectives or strategy or actions that are weakening organized crime,” Guerrero said.

Ricardo Márquez, a former senior security official, noted that the number of homicides appeared to have leveled off, but at a very high number. “We are stalled in a situation that is tragic, of brutality and carnage,” he said.

And there appears to be no national plan to confront the violence, he said.

“Every state, every governor has his own strategy,” Márquez said.

Recent months have brought vivid new examples of the extraordinary power and reach of organized-crime groups. In November, assailants massacred three women and six children who were dual U.S.-Mexican citizens living in the northern state of Sonora.

Weeks earlier, Sinaloa cartel gunmen virtually seized control of the city of Culiacan, forcing the government to release Ovidio Guzmán, a son of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, shortly after his arrest.

And in December, dozens of cartel gunmen attacked a town hall in Villa Union, some 40 miles southwest of the U.S. border town of Eagle Pass, Tex., triggering a two-day battle with security forces that left 19 dead.

López Obrador’s policies have included the creation of a national guard with more than 70,000 members. But under pressure from President Trump, he has diverted many of the troops to immigration enforcement duties.

López Obrador said Tuesday that his administration would not make secret deals to allow criminal groups to operate.

“Unlike before, [the cartels] don’t have the protection of the government,” he said. He referred specifically to the case of Genaro García Luna, a former Mexican security chief, who was recently indicted in a U.S. federal court on charges of accepting bribes in exchange for allowing Guzmán’s cartel to flourish.