HomeNewsAnalysisJuarez Murder Rate Reaches 5-Year Low
ANALYSIS

Juarez Murder Rate Reaches 5-Year Low

HOMICIDES / 4 JAN 2013 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Ciudad Juarez, once one of Mexico's most notorious and violent cities, saw its homicide rate drop over 60 percent between 2011 and 2012, a decrease which may have more to do with organized crime dynamics than security policy. 

According to Diario de Juarez's count, which is based on figures from the State Attorney General's Office, the border city finished 2012 with a total of 751 homicides. This is compared to the 2,086 murders officially registered in 2011. 

As noted in the Frontera e-mail list, kept by New Mexico State University librarian Molly Molloy, this is the lowest annual total reported for Juarez in the past five years. During this period, Juarez -- a city with a population of 1.2 million -- accounted for 11 percent of the total homicides in Mexico, Molloy writes. 

2007 320 Less than 1 murder a day
2008 1,623 4.4 per day
2009 2,754 7.5 per day
2010 3,622 9.9 per day
2011 2,086 5.7 per day
2012 797 2 per day 

InSight Crime Analysis

There are several theories on the security gains in Juarez, which can be roughly divided into two camps: things improved thanks to the government, or things improved due to changes in organized crime. 

The government made several strategic decisions that arguably helped pacify the city. Juarez saw the expansion of social programs like Todos Somos Juarez (We Are All Juarez), a $50 million initiative that channeled funds into after-school programs and community events. The program has been compared to Brazil's community policing program, known as the UPP. 

Another key move was the withdrawal of the army and the scaling back of the federal police. Corrupt elements in both forces were blamed for carrying out extrajudicial killings, and participating in drug trafficking and kidnapping. The army, deployed to Juarez in 2009 and gradually phased out over 2010, had been strongly criticized for committing abuses and contributing to the city's most violent era. 

Tougher policing also may have played a role in reducing the crime rate. The local police force, under the command of Chief Julian Leyzaola, has been credited with implementing a more effective citizen security strategy, as Al Jazeera reported last year. Police divided the city into quadrants and focused on bringing down crime levels section by section. Still, the force continues to struggle with corruption and abusive officers

There are other theories that the decrease in violence in Juarez had little to do with the actions of the security forces or government. As outlined in a report released last October by Southern Pulse, the peace was arguably achieved because the Sinaloa Cartel took control of the city. Violence first began to surge in 2007 after the Sinaloans attempted to take over Juarez's highly prized drug trafficking routes. Local enforcer gangs like La Linea and the Aztecas fought a bitter war, often using unrestrained violence that targeted civilians and drove up the murder count. Southern Pulse argued that these local gangs will likely continue fighting over turf, but the larger conflict between the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartel has already come to an end. 

And as Molloy argued to Proceso magazine, Juarez's murder statistics may not be telling the whole story. The homicides registered by the State Attorney General do not always account for victims found in mass graves. One such grave discovered 25 kilometers southeast of the city in November 2012 containing 19 bodies. Without accounting for the number of Juarez's disappeared, the city's current homicide rate may be deceptively low. 

Even as violence in Juarez is apparently dropping, other cities across the country continue to struggle with spiking homicides. Acapulco, Monterrey, and Culiacan have all seen rising crime. Mexico as a whole registered 12,394 murders over the past year, a one percent drop from 2011. Other parts of the country looking to follow Juarez's example would do well to absorb the fact that, disappointingly, there may be only so much that the government can do to dramatically improve security in the short term. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA / 12 NOV 2010

In a dramatic police crackdown last Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia, US officials arrested 45 people suspected of distributing drugs for…

JUAREZ CARTEL / 5 FEB 2013

Mexican officials have announced plans to send army troops and federal police to patrol roads in a mountainous region of…

HOMICIDES / 11 DEC 2012

A new report from a Mexico consulting firm on organized crime-related killings in November -- the final month of former…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.