Judge: ‘Mexico Will Win Fight Against Organized Crime in Juarez”

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The Spanish judge best known for issuing an arrest warrant against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has said that Mexico is winning the war against organized crime in Ciudad Juarez. But the statement is best described as rhetoric, rather than an accurate description of Juarez’s more complex reality.

Speaking at a press conference following a security forum held in Ciudad Juarez, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón stated that progress is being made in the battle against organized crime in Juarez, Chihuahua, and that “without a doubt … [the authorities] will win the game against organized crime,” reports El Heraldo de Chihuahua.

Garzon added, “It is positive … that something is being done, that there are rules being enforced where they hadn’t been previously, that there is political will where there wasn’t previously … in short, that there is positive will.”

Ciudad Juarez had a total of 300 murders in 2007 before the figure shot up to over 3,000 in 2010, making it the most violent city in the world. This number fell by 45 percent in 2011, according to President Felipe Calderon, and the murder rate reportedly continues to fall during 2012.

Much of the violence has been blamed on the battle between the Sinaloa Cartel‘s Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the Juarez Cartel for control of this crucial trafficking corridor to the US.

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite the fact that Juarez remains Mexico’s most violent city — its 2011 homicide rate of 148 per 100,000 beating Acapulco’s 128 per 100,000 — its dramatic drop in homicides has enabled the Calderon administration to hold it up as a relative success story.

However, this fall has come with a cost. A report by Proceso magazine earlier this year highlighted how Julian Leyzaola, the controversial municipal police chief in charge of anti-crime efforts, has been responsible for leading and even personally carrying out extrajudicial killings and prison house beatings. The police force have also been accused of arbitrarily detaining people on minor offences, fining them in order to improve the department’s finances. This would all appear to run counter to what Garzon talked about in his speech, stating that security gains made by the authorities must be within legal limits.

Furthermore, Garzon’s positive assertion that the war against organized crime will ultimately be won is highly optimistic, at least in the short term. While the city has effectively come under the control of the Sinaloans, Juarez remains crucial territory to drug gangs and could therefore continue to see battles, even if they are on a diminished scale. Though the rise of new gangs like the New Juarez Cartel (NCJ) has yet to materialize into a new battle for Juarez, the threat certainly remains.

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