As Breitbart Texas recently reported, Enrique Serrano Escobar, the mayor of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico (just south of El Paso, Texas) stated he aims to sue the makers of the fiction film “Sicario” in a U.S. court for “moral damages” to the city. Escobar said the movie depicts violent incidents that don’t currently reflect the city, telling Mexico’s El Norte newspaper, “It hurts the image of Juarenses.” However, Escobar seems to have forgotten that Cuidad Juárez is still host to two major drug cartels and over 400 street gangs.
Starting in 2007, the annual murder rate in Ciudad Juárez began to skyrocket in parallel with a war between the Sinaloa Federation and the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization, a.k.a. the Juárez cartel. The war peaked in 2010, when Juárez earned the nickname “Murder City” for its death toll of over 3,600, per New Mexico State University researcher Molly Molloy.
In the years since, the nature of the violence in Ciudad Juárez has evolved. Federation kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán began employing local gangs in the city, along with police forces, to do the dirty work for him in forcing the Juárez cartel into submission. Homicides no longer solely involved cartel members; it slowly changed into a dangerous mix of cartel activity and local gang warfare. As the Federation’s strategy began to succeed, the murder rate began dropping, reaching 434 deaths in 2014 according to the US State Department. However, those numbers are still higher than the homicides in Detroit (300), Chicago (390), and New York City (328) during the same year.
The source and manner of homicides that do occur in Cuidad Juárez is also very similar to those in Mexican cities with higher death tolls, and some doubt that Ciudad Juárez is really “back.” Luis Chapparo wrote an article for VICE in June 2014 in which he stated, “The ‘rebirth’ of Ciudad Juárez might just be a temporary phenomenon. Some believe that before the year is up, the war will return.” Scott Stewart, vice president of Stratfor—a US-based intelligence and analysis firm—told VICE he agreed with this assessment. “The border corridor of drugs between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas, is returning to the hands of the Juarez Cartel, after a weakening of their rivals in Mexico,” Stewart said.
Despite the numbers and concerned speculation over the return of violence to Ciudad Juárez, the fact remains that suing moviemakers over the supposedly erroneous portrayal of a city in a fictional movie is completely frivolous. This is the equivalent of the FBI suing Hollywood for making agents look like bumbling idiots, or the Cities of Baltimore and Detroit suing for their depiction in “The Wire” and “8 Mile,” respectively. Serrano was elected as mayor in July 2013, prior to the second season of the F/X network’s series “The Bridge,” which portrayed both Ciudad Juárez and El Paso in the context of drug trafficking, drug war violence, and illegal immigration. He did not threaten to sue F/X over the city’s portrayal in that series.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.