The murder rate has dropped in these two notorious cities, but violence stemming from criminal feuds has dispersed to neighboring towns. Monterrey’s fortunes have improved, but the violence in many nearby areas, such as Cadereyta Jimenez and Juarez, Nuevo Leon (not to be confused with the more famous Juarez, in Chihuahua), has grown far worse: the number of killings linked to organized crime in these places were 87 and 60, respectively. In Cadereyta Jimenez, the discovery of dozens of bodies in May was an outlier event that could skew the perception of the overall level of violence in the town, but the murder rate in the city has grown significantly even discounting this incident.
In Chihuahua, two states to the west of Nuevo Leon, a similar dynamic appears to be at play. The decline in bloodshed in Juarez has been more than matched by an uptick of 165 murders in Chihuahua City, the state capital which lies just a few hours south of Juarez. As a consequence, Chihuahua has become the city with the third highest number of murders in the country.
On the state level, both Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon saw decreases in murders in June, and much of the violence seems to have transferred to Coahuila, which lies between the two. Torreon, Coahuila’s biggest city, which is a few hours drive from Monterrey and Chihuahua City, witnessed more organized crime-linked killings than any other urban area in Mexico in June, with a total of 83. In the first six months of the year, the city was the site of 275 executions -- the sixth-highest in the country). This is a jump of 104 from the previous six-month period, giving it the country's third-largest increase in killings.
Criminal violence has long been bubbling up in Torreon, and the city has suffered a series of highly publicized criminal acts in recent years, including a gunfight last August outside a stadium that brought a soccer game to a halt as players and fans took cover. However, the current level of violence is unprecedented for the city of some 600,000 people. Should Torreon stay toward the top of the list of murders and executions, it would represent the culmination of a years-long trend that would reshape the map of violence in Mexico.Also, I saw this note from Milenio not long ago that tagged the number of total murders in Juárez during the first six months at 952. The same article says that state authorities place the number of murders in Juárez during the same period at 653. Wow, that's a huge difference! Although both show a sharp decline from the same period last year, with the army showing a drop from 1, 642 and the state placing the corresponding figure for 2011 at 1,322. So does the army just start counting on January 1 with a base figure of 300, or is the state just really bad at counting dead bodies? I'd be interested in a detailed explanation; the Milenio note merely offers the following:
Los números son más bajos debido a que la autoridad civil registra los asesinatos de manera distinta, según la fiscalía.Manera distinta, you say? Yeah, no kidding.
More conflicting pieces of the number stew: the National Public Security System has a five-month total for all of Chihuahua of 1,031, which, given the number of violent areas that are not Ciudad Juárez, would seem to be irreconcilable with the army stats. The tally from the city's Mesa de Seguridad is a mere 481 through five months, which makes you suspect that the Mesa's counting techniques are poor indeed.
Also, here's a previous piece on the arrest of the leader of Guerreros Unidos, yet another gang to emerge in Guerrero in recent years.