CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – More than 100 police officers were killed in 2010 in this violent Mexican border city, where the drug-related death toll exceeded 3,100 during that same 12-month period.
On the last day of the year, an armed commando killed two municipal police and seriously wounded another officer in an ambush, officials said Friday.
According to media tallies, that attack brought to 102 the number of police slain in 2010 in Mexico’s murder capital, which lies across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Of that total, most of the fatalities (67) were municipal police while the remainder were federal police, thousands of whom have been deployed to Juarez as part of President Felipe Calderon’s nationwide crackdown on Mexico’s numerous drug cartels.
That strategy, which has included enlisting the military in the drug war, has led to the elimination of several crime bosses and record seizures of cocaine but appears to have had no impact on the flow of illegal drugs from Mexico to the United States.
Drug-related deaths, meanwhile, have risen steadily since Calderon took office in late 2006.
More than 3,100 people, or approximately nine per day, were killed in drug-related violence in 2010 in Juarez, with many of the deaths blamed on the war for control of smuggling routes into the United States between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels.
That figure represents about one-fourth of all deaths this year from gangland mayhem in Mexico, where more than 30,000 people have died over the past four years in cartels’ battles for supremacy and clashes between the gangs and security forces.
Also Friday, assailants used Molotov cocktails in a firebomb attack on an elementary school in a low-income area that caused significant damage but no casualties.
Extortion rings in Ciudad Juarez have ordered staff at some schools to hand over half of their Christmas bonuses, threatening violence against teachers and students if they refuse.
Another attack on a pre-school several days ago – apparently in reprisal for a failure to make extortion payments – also did not result in any injuries.