A truce among rival criminal gangs is said to be behind a sudden dip in homicides in Juárez, though the northern Mexico border city is still on path for its deadliest year in nearly a decade.
Juárez saw homicides drop to 87 in September, down from 182 in August and 177 in July 2018, according to figures reported by Sin Embargo.
The dip comes after an especially violent summer. In May, the number of murders jumped to 124, nearly doubling the previous month’s toll, according to data collected by Molly Molloy, a border and Latin America researcher at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
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The pace of the killings continued to increase through August, including the massacre of 11 people in a home where they were tied up and tortured, El Diario reported.
According to Molloy’s historical data, the city is on track to surpass 1,000 homicides in 2018, the first time it will have done so since 2011.
InSight Crime Analysis
Paradoxically, fragmentation appears to be at the root of the rise and the dip in homicides in Juárez.
The local and international drug markets in the city have splintered in recent years. Local powerhouses like the Barrio Azteca, the Artistas Asesinos, La Linea, and the Mexicles have openly battled for control of local markets, as the larger, monolithic groups like the Juárez Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel disintegrate. Other new gangs have also emerged from fractured ones, among them La Vieja Guardia and La Empresa.
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The apparent truce in Juárez is likely a product of the armed groups coming quickly to grips with the fact that none has the money or power to control the local drug market.
“Selling methamphetamines to impoverished people in Juárez is not a high-margin business,” Jaime López, a public security expert in Mexico, told InSight Crime. “The fact that the conflict reached this stalemate point so fast shows that the resources are not there.”
The criminal dynamics that caused the recent spike in killings in Juárez are far different than the ones in place from 2008 to 2012 when the city was in the grips of a bloody war between the Juárez and Sinaloa cartels. Ultimately, the Sinaloa Cartel prevailed and took control of the city. But those days, apparently, are over.