MEXICO CITY – A total of 424 “suspected criminals who belonged to the command structures of different criminal organizations” were arrested in the nearly 18 months that the Federal Police was in charge of law enforcement in Ciudad Juarez, a border city in northern Mexico, the Public Safety Secretariat said.
From April 5, 2010, to September 2011, the Federal Police arrested 335 Juarez drug cartel members and 89 Sinaloa cartel members in the border city, the secretariat said.
The Federal Police relieved the army of security and law enforcement duties in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
“Currently, (law enforcement) operations in Ciudad Juarez are being handled by state and municipal authorities, so that the federal Public Safety Secretariat, via the Undersecretariat for Prevention and Citizens Participation, is only coordinating the work of the security team to prevent crime,” the secretariat said.
Fernando Contreras Meraz, Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez and Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo were among the top Juarez cartel bosses captured by the Federal Police.
The La Linea and Los Aztecas gangs, two of the most active criminal organizations in the border city, are on the payroll of the Juarez cartel.
Jesus Eduardo Martinez Alvarado and Edgar Camacho Mendoza were among the Sinaloa cartel operatives captured by federal law enforcement agents, the secretariat said.
The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, employs members of the Gente Nueva, Artistas Asesinos and Los Mexicles gangs as enforcers in Ciudad Juarez.
Undersecretary for Prevention and Citizens Participation Facundo Rosas participated in a meeting Monday at which security officials discussed the figures.
From April 2010 to September 2011, the Federal Police broke 69 kidnapping cases, rescued 74 victims, arrested 68 suspected kidnappers and dismantled a dozen kidnapping gangs, the Public Safety Secretariat said.
The crime rate has fallen somewhat in Ciudad Juarez in the past few months, official figures show.
The murder rate in February 2012 was down 57 percent relative to the figure in early 2010, President Felipe Calderon said earlier this year.
Non-governmental organizations, however, say the drop in the murder rate has not been so sharp, putting the figure at between 30 percent and 40 percent.
Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
The murder rate took off in the border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when 310 people were killed, then it more than tripled to 1,607 in 2008, according to Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office figures, with the number of killings climbing to 2,754 in 2009.
Some 3,116 people were murdered in the border city in 2010, making it the worst year since the cartel turf war started.
A total of 1,910 people were murdered in Juarez in 2011 and 477 have been murdered so far this year, Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office figures show. EFE