HomeNewsAnalysisDespite Shake Ups to Mexico's Underworld, Juarez's Uneasy Peace Will Stand
ANALYSIS

Despite Shake Ups to Mexico's Underworld, Juarez's Uneasy Peace Will Stand

JUAREZ CARTEL / 25 OCT 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

A Southern Pulse report on Ciudad Juarez provides a glimpse at the dominant forces behind organized crime in the border city, once the “ground zero” of Mexico’s drug war, and offers a cautiously optimistic outlook for the future.

The report, published in October and available for purchase at Southern Pulse’s website, notes that the security environment in Juarez has turned a corner. Homicides in the city, which peaked at around 300 per month in 2010, have fallen dramatically, with August and September seeing around just one murder a day. Authorities have seen similar decreases in other criminal activities as well. From July 2011 to July 2012, police registered a more than 50 percent drop in vehicle theft, violent domestic robbery has fallen by 24 percent and armed robbery from commercial businesses is down by 35 percent.

One reason for this, according to the report, is that the criminal food chain in Juarez has finally settled. The Sinaloa Cartel’s bloody battle with the Juarez Cartel for control over the drug trafficking routes crossing through the city, which began in 2007, has come to an end.

This is not a sudden development, however. As the graph below shows, Juarez’s murder rate has been falling since 2010. Many analysts, the report’s author included, credit this to a non-aggression pact that both cartels agreed to in the spring of that year. However, violent crime persisted as smaller local gangs like the Aztecas and Los Mexicles -- which Southern Pulse describes as “accustomed to unrestrained strong-arm tactics” -- continued to fight over local turf.

sopo2

Additionally, violence is down because the Juarez Cartel became irreversibly weakened by its struggle with the Sinaloa Cartel and by Mexican law enforcement. Though they were once a major player in the country’s drug trafficking landscape, their connections to Colombia and the United States have been lost, and the group has now clearly become subjugated to the Sinaloans. Not only is the cartel no longer a true transnational network, Southern Pulse argues that it should be considered a “tier-two” criminal organization, on par with regional gangs like the Aztecas.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Sinaloa Cartel’s now firm hold on Juarez marks the latest in a number of victories for the organization, which in recent months seems to be deepening its influence in Mexico. Their closest rivals, the Zetas, were hit by the death of one of their leaders, Heriberto Lazcano, in early October and seem to be a top priority of law enforcement in the country. In addition to the loss of Lazcano, the group is believed to be fragmenting.

As the dominant group in Juarez, the Sinaloa Cartel is expected to maintain a relatively low profile. The cartel is known for its business-like manner and penchant for more “soft” tactics like bribery and kickbacks rather than gruesome mass killings. With them at the helm of the city’s underworld, drug-related murders will likely be kept at a minimum. This will be an issue for Julian Leyzaola, Juarez’s police commander, who has battled police corruption since taking office in early 2011, when he told reporters that he suspected nearly one-quarter of the police force was on the payroll of criminal organizations.

But the peaceful outlook for the city may not hold for long. One of the main variables in this equation, according to the Southern Pulse report, is the strategy of Juarez Cartel-affiliated smaller gangs like the Aztecas and La Linea, which has served as the cartel’s main hit squad. These gangs are strong enough in the city to pose a serious challenge to the Sinaloa Cartel, and may make a play to do so if their hold slips. 

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

DISPLACEMENT / 11 MAY 2022

Mexico's produce industry has taken another hit from cartel violence, as tens of millions of dollars worth of peaches are…

FENTANYL / 22 OCT 2021

Fentanyl continues to wreak havoc on both sides of the US-Mexico border, as Mexican security forces continue to seize the…

HOMICIDES / 19 OCT 2022

Mothers searching for their missing loved ones in Mexico have been murdered, threatened, and ignored, despite government pledges to protect…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…