Rising Violence in Juárez, Mexico May Signal Return of Cartel War

Violence in Ciudad Juárez is on the rise. This year is on track to be the deadliest since 2012, signaling the possible renewal of warfare between the region’s dominant criminal groups.

Seven people were killed and one injured in an October 27 attack at a motel in the city of Chihuahua, a few hours south of Ciudad Juárez on the highway that links the two cities.

According to eyewitnesses, four men entered the motel at around 5:45 pm wielding heavy caliber weapons, and opened fire on the victims. Afterward, the assailants fled north, stopping to change vehicles, according to El Diario.

Chihuahua Attorney General Cesar Augusto Peniche said that both the victims and the perpetrators were members of criminal groups. The authorities have apprehended one of the individuals involved in the slaughter, according to Proceso.

Additionally, ten other people were killed that day in various attacks in Juárez, reported Proceso.

InSight Crime Analysis

Juárez and the state of Chihuahua have seen rising levels of violence in recent months, raising speculation that the dark days of brutal killings that the city saw in between the years 2008 and 2012 could be making a comeback. Just in the month of October, there have been 90 homicides in Juárez, and 183 in the state of Chihuahua, according to Proceso. Mexico’s army — which many human rights activities have blamed, at least in part, for a spike in violence that began in 2008 — was sent back onto the streets of Juárez in August this year.

At the current pace, 2016 will be most violent year in Juárez since 2012, according to Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope, who also noted that violence is not confined to Juárez, and that murders have been on the rise around the state of Chihuahua. The level of brutality and style of the killings, notes Hope, are reminiscent of those seen during the 2008 to 2012 war between the Juárez and Sinaloa Cartels.

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The notion that the conflict between the two groups could be revived was lent credence via an interview the newspaper El Universal recently conducted with “Jorge”, a leader of La Linea (The Line), the enforcement wing of the Juárez Cartel. Jorge said that the latest rise in homicides were just the beginning. According to him, “war” is returning to Juárez and the worst is yet to come. 

Gustavo Fondevila, a security expert, told InSight Crime that it is likely that the possible extradition to the United States of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo Guzmán has weakened the crime group and disrupted its control in Juárez. When criminal groups contest strategically important territories — like Juárez, which is a major transshipment point for drugs headed to the United States — violence tends to increase, Fondevila said.