JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Juarez officials broke ground on Wednesday on a new public safety building that will track criminal activity throughout the state of Chihuahua.

The planned 20-story Centinela tower will rise across the street from the Balderas bull ring on Avenida Francisco Villa. The building will house police intelligence units and monitors to process images from cameras equipped with face-recognition technology at street corners in the state’s major cities. It will also allow police commanders to track the locations of patrol cars 24-7.

Government officials also hope the high-profile structure will also bring a sense of security to Juarez merchants and American visitors to Downtown.

An artist rendition of the planned Torre Centinela in Juarez. (State of Chihuahua)

“Just by looking at it and knowing that you have all this public safety (officers) from the state in Downtown Juarez is going to give confidence to the people. It’s going to be an iconic building because everybody is going to relate it to the security of the city,” said Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon, Mexico’s consul general in El Paso.

The $100 million building should be operational in the next two to three years.

A video with artist renderings of the building and its planned use can be seen here.

Beheadings, dismemberment are work of ‘sick’ people

Municipal and Chihuahua state officials on Wednesday told Border Report that crime in Juarez is not as bad as local and international media portray it. Carjackings, robberies and thefts are rare; the problem is the brutal gang-on-gang violence fueled by the appetite for drugs north of the border and the unfortunate proliferation of street drug sales in Juarez, they said.

“It’s not as simple as going after the gangs. The reality is there are underlying problems [….] that need to be addressed through policy and investment in social programs, education,” said Chihuahua state police Chief Gilberto Loya.

Asked about the rash of at least half a dozen beheadings and dismemberment of men and women throughout the city in the past week, Loya attributed such acts to criminals with psychological issues.

Police say defacing the bodies of their rivals is a gang’s means of sending a warning to their enemies. But Loya said that goes beyond the cost of doing business or self-preservation.

A Juarez police officer (center) stands next to a black plastic bag containing human remains and left on a street corner on Tuesday. (Border Report photo)

“This points to a particular psychological profile of the people committing those acts. […] What are we doing about it? We will detain them. Period. Such people need to be brought to justice so they can pay for what they are doing,” Loya said.

Juarez has recorded 40 murders in the first 10 days of August.