The incursion of criminal groups from surrounding states into Aguascalientes has triggered a resurgence in violence over the past two years, authorities say.
There were just 38 intentional homicides in the small central Mexico state in 2015 and 39 the following year, according to statistics from the National Public Security System (SNSP).
But the homicide rate more than doubled to 82 cases in 2017 while between January and September this year, there were 63 murders.
Aguascalientes authorities say that gangs from Zacatecas, Jalisco and San Luis Potosí are behind the increasing violence.
In a report on the state’s security situation that was released earlier this year, Attorney General Jesús Figueroa Ortega said the increase in homicides can be attributed to turf wars between narcomenudistas, or small-scale drug traffickers, declaring that “there are no large cartel structures” in the state.
However, there is evidence that Mexico’s two most powerful cartels are indeed operating in Aguascalientes.
On September 11, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) announced its arrival in the state by hanging narcomantas, or narco signs, in public spaces.
More narcomantas, on which the Sinaloa Cartel claimed to be in control of Aguascalientes, appeared a few days later.
In addition to those two cartels the Zetas and a gang called Los Talibanes are also operating in Aguascalientes, state Interior Secretary Enrique Morán Faz said.
“We have [both] a permanent incursion and a transient one . . . they come in and leave via both borders, the northern border as well as the southern one . . . This is something that we have to be careful with and continue to live our lives but I don’t say that it is normal,” he said.
The governors of Aguascalientes and the neighboring state of Zacatecas, Martín Orozco Sandoval and Alejandro Tello respectively, as well as high-ranking security officials met in February and agreed on a strategy that involved working together to combat organized crime.
While the suspected leader of Los Talibanes was captured by Aguascalientes police in July, authorities have failed to stem the tide of violent crime.
In addition to a rising homicide rate, robberies, kidnappings and attacks on police have also continued an upward trend that started last year.
A state police officer is currently in intensive care in hospital after he was attacked last week by armed men in the municipality of Asientos.
The chief of police of Loreto, Zacatecas, and three officers were injured on October 23 when they were ambushed by armed men in the same Aguascalientes municipality.
The resurgence in violent crime is reminiscent of the period between 2004 and 2010 when Aguascalientes went through some of its most violent times ever.
Source: El Universal (sp)