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Crystal meth blamed for return of violence in Ciudad Juárez with over 200 intentional homicides committed this yea

April 2, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Crystal meth blamed for return of violence in Ciudad Juárez with over 200 intentional homicides committed this yea

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Bloody violence in Ciudad Juárez, the one-time murder capital of the world, has made a comeback, and experts say crystal meth is responsible for most drug-related homicides in the city.

Execution-style killings, shootouts in public such as in bars and restaurants, and the recovery of dismembered human remains have once again become the norm in the border.

Over 200 slayings have been reported so far 2017, a 150% rise compared the same period in 2016.

The increase in killings caused the civic organization Mesa de Seguridad y Justicia de Juárez to demand that officials target high-impact crimes and set a deadline to get results, the El Paso Times reported.

The group has worked with police to implement strategies to diminish violence in the city since 2010 when violence in Juárez was at its highest.

The group’s organizer, Astrid González, said Mesa de Seguridad would begin analyzing and announcing the effectiveness of the arrest and judicial methods.

“We also are asking authorities for the results of operations,” she said after a closed-door meeting with law enforcement, government and business officials in Juárez.

Investigators are executing patrol units made up of local, state and federal police — as was done during the most deadly years in Juárez.

Police have increased their number of operations, arrests, and seizures of crystal meth, which has been responsible for most of the drug-related violence.

Most of the meth in the U.S. is manufactured in Mexico and is smuggled across the border, according to the DEA’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment report.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said that meth seizures along the Southwest border have skyrocketed 305% between 2010 to 2015 when roughly 35,900 pounds of meth were seized. The majority — 68% — of the seizures in 2015 occurred in California.

Meth seizures in El Paso increased 27% from 2014 to 2016, when 667 pounds of meth were seized at border areas.

A forensic team at the crime scene where a body was found wrapped in a blanket in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Luiz Gonzalez

Juárez was listed as one of the 50 most violent Mexican regions where Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, in collaboration with local police, implemented a strategy to fight violence. That includes increasing security and law enforcement agencies that are at the forefront of combating drug cartel.

Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong went to Juárez in December and met with military, federal, state and local officials to get an update on the security strategy.

“We have reversed the incidents (of homicides), and are trying to keep lowering that rate with a long-term plan,” Osorio Chong said at a press conference.

He was talking about a significant decrease in murders in November when 35 killings were reported, compared to October, which saw 98 killings.

The decline in violence did not last long. Deaths increased to 58 by December.

So far in 2017, the surge in slayings continued, making it apparent that the federal strategy to combat crime is not working.

The homicide rate in January was 52, and 81 in February, according to information from the Mesa de Seguridad and the attorney general’s office in Chihuahua.

Up until March 29th, 66 slayings have been reported, which does not include the discovery of three skeletons and a skull.

Violence as a whole has increased in Chihuahua, which since October now holds the highest murder rate in Mexico.

González, from Mesa de Seguridad, said the group gave investigators a deadline of three months to control the number of homicides and other high-impact crimes.

“After three months, there has to be a decline,” González said, who is confident that will happen. “We might not see it, but the community will feel it.”

Renewed violence for control of the Methamphetamine market prompted homicides in Juarez in October 2016 to surge to highest levels in four years

Juárez Mayor Armando Cabada acknowledged the high rate of murders but said, “things are not solved from one day to another.”

He added, “The truth is we found some weak points in our (law enforcement) operations, and (criminals) took advantage of that.”

He noted that the coordination of the levels of government was strengthened in March with shared intelligence and coordinated actions before patrolling the city.

“The mixed units will continue working, with daily information, to search for targets and strategies to help curb violence and give positive results,” Cabada added.

Juárez police also have begun to fight the drug problem through education.

In March, the government implemented a citywide campaign against the use of drugs titled “Ni una sola vez,” or “Not even once.”

Mesa de Seguridad, in collaboration with school administrators, started giving talks at middle and high schools targeted towards preventing the use of crystal meth and to encourage people to report trafficking.

Enrique Martínez, a Prevention Committee member of Mesa de Seguridad, said teens are at risk of becoming consumers of the drug — and ultimately drug traffickers.

Crystal meth’s availability and low price makes it attractive to young students, Martínez stated. “The problem is serious. This drug has gone up in schools in Juárez to levels not seen before.”

Martínez noted the case of two boys who were brought to a hospital after overdosing during class last week. One of them is in a coma.

He said the idea is to give as many talks as possible in over 1,600 schools in Juárez about crystal meth and other drugs, such as Spice, which have become an issue in schools in Juárez.

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