Northern Mexico City Shuts Down Bars as Violence Escalates

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Authorities in the northern Mexican city of Torreon may close down as many as 17 businesses following a spate of deadly attacks, as violence shows no sign of abating in this hotspot for criminal activity.

In a pre-emptive move, authorities in Torreon shut down eight bars deemed to be “high risk” areas, reported Proceso. The decision was reportedly based in part on police intelligence.

The shutting down of the businesses followed a week of intense violence, in which 15 people were killed and scores injured in attacks carried out in at least five other bars across the city. Police have attributed the attacks to gangs fighting each other for control of drug trafficking in Coahuila state, where Torreon is located.

According to Milenio, city authorities may move to close another nine establishments, including a rehabilitation center, by the end of this week.

InSight Crime Analysis

Not only is Torreon currently one of Mexico’s most violent cities, but it has seen one of the most dramatic increases in homicides during Felipe Calderon’s six-year presidential term. Last year saw 761 murders, close to a 20-fold increase from 2006, when just 39 homicides were registered.

Not only have criminal groups have carried out brazen attacks in public establishments, they have also been blamed for a violent campaign against the police. A series of targeted attacks against the Federal Police saw two officers killed in the space of five weeks last year. 

While shutting down the “high risk” establishments seems intended to shield Torreon residents from further attacks, the move also underscores the inability of the security forces to fully protect the area. Ultimately, closing down these “high risk” locales may only serve to push the violence to other parts of the city.

Much of the increase in violence has been attributed to the arrival of the Zetas in 2007, and the ensuing battle with rival group the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the drug trafficking trade. However, according to local officials, the city’s homicide rates continue to climb even though the Zetas have been weakened considerably. This suggests, smaller, more local groups may be the primary drivers of violence now.

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