As cartel violence rages in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, the final murder toll peaked at 1,734 for 2017–smashing the previous year’s record of 910. The final number represents a 90% increase, making 2017 the bloodiest year to date.
The murder rate continues to climb as rival drug cartels battle over control of key trafficking routes and street-level distribution, according to local media reports. The escalation can be attributed to the hostilities between the Sinaloa Cartel and their one-time ally, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG).
Breitbart Texas recently reported that according to State Attorney General Perla del Socorro Ibarra Leyva, no more than 12 percent of the first 1,500 homicide investigations of 2017 led to indictments.
Another contributing factor cited by Marco Antonio Sotomayor Amezca, Chief of Police for Tijuana, is the New Criminal Justice System (NSJP) which was implemented nationally in June 2016. Chief Sotomayor said the NSJP has been an obstacle for authorities since most people arrested, even for those possessing weapons or drugs, are released within 48 hours. Many of these individuals are criminally involved or contributing to cartel violence.
In late November, it was reported that due to the escalation of violence, the local morgue faced a crisis. During a press conference with Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, he explained the Servicio Médico Forense (SEMEFO) lacked space due to the constant flow of murder victims. Local media outlets reported that SEMEFO could not absorb the daily influx while outdated equipment caused bodies to decompose. The Governor reported that new equipment was being purchased and plans were being made to expand operations. Lamadrid noted that one contributing factor was unclaimed bodies, requiring burials in common graves.
The new year continues the wave of violence, with at least 11 murdered in the first two days of 2018, including five executed in a tire shop on January 2, according to media reports.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)