AirTalk for August 21, 2012

Sharp drop in the murder rate in Juarez, thanks to the cartels?

A member of the local police guards one

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Why has there been a sharp decline in violent crimes in Ciudad Juarez?

Once the epicenter of violent spillover from Mexico’s drug wars, Ciudad Juarez has seen a precipitous drop in the number of homicides.

Officials in Mexico’s federal government are proudly touting the improved crime statistics. But, as a long analysis in the Washington Post points out, that may not all be thanks to massive deployment of money and troops. The Sinaloa cartel has secured the region surrounding Juarez as its territory, causing many fewer conflicts between rival drug gangs. As with every development in Mexico’s shadow economy, it’s hard to know what exactly accounts for the change.

One expert counters, it’s the exodus of 200,000 frightened citizens out of Juarez that explains the drop; there are simply fewer people in the city to be affected by the violence. Yet another expert says local law enforcement has played an important role – not in getting the cartel capos, but in cracking down on the local thugs they sometimes associate with, who terrorize their own neighbors through carjackings and extortion.

What’s really behind the drop in violence? How much peace can Mexican border residents expect– and for how long?

Guests:

Molly Molloy, Latin American specialist at the New Mexico State University Library and co-author of El Sicario: The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin

Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC


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