JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Homicide rates spiked yet again in Juarez last month, and police officials say turf wars over retail drug sales are to blame.
Juarez recorded 146 murders in May, a 16 percent increase over April and a 30 percent increase over May 2020. The killings included a triple homicide inside a house where the homeowner and a couple were the target, and a dismembered body inside a suitcase. Twenty-one murders took place during a three-day span May 14-16.
Chihuahua Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava told KTSM that fights over drug sales in working-class neighborhoods were the main drivers of violence in May. He also said internal strife among some of the leading drug gangs accounted for a share of the killings.
“The cause (of the homicides) continues to be retail drug sales and fights inside criminal groups. Our intelligence analysis also shows there is a split inside one of the organized criminal groups […] that is possibly generating a portion of the increase” in homicides, Nava said.
Police and sources familiar with Juarez’s crime scene linked some of the violence to a gang called La Empresa, one of the groups previously identified with the old Juarez cartel. The reputed leader, a man known as “300,” has been in jail for several years and is said to be losing influence over the group. Police previously identified the new leader as 300’s brother, Omar Alejandro Santana, a.k.a., The Gnome.
Police said La Empresa has been moving into northwest Juarez neighborhoods near the U.S. border at the expense of local groups. Police blame a split inside another group, Barrio Azteca, for a spate of murders in neighborhoods south of Downtown.
Juarez has now tallied some 600 murders for the year. Juarez ranked third last year in the list of the 50 Most Violent Cities in the World, a survey put out by a Mexico City think-tank called Citizens Council for Public Safety and Judicial Justice.