A sharp increase in violence in Ensenada launched the Baja California municipality into first place in the state for intentional homicides by the end of March, which was the worst month for violence in 12 years.
As of May 29, there had been 66 assassinations since the beginning of the year, a staggering increase over the 68 recorded in all of last year, which itself was a record.
The state Attorney General’s office said last week that crime numbers are down in Ensenada so far in 2017, but admitted that homicides have increased.
Robbery with violence has declined and vehicle theft has remained about the same as last year, said deputy Attorney General Norma Velázquez Carmona, based in Ensenada.
But Jorge Ramos Hernández, head of the Public Security Commission in the federal Chamber of Deputies, said on Monday that vehicle theft and other crime is also up.
At a meeting with local business operators he expressed support for military intervention. Ramos also lamented that crime suspects are no longer being held in preventative custody due to the new criminal justice system.
Instead they are being released while the cases against them are being processed, allowing them to return to the streets and commit more crimes.
It is a criticism of the new system that has been made elsewhere in Mexico in recent months.
Ensenada business owners met with local authorities three weeks ago to urge that they establish a strategy to put a stop to the increase in violence.
Mayor Marco Antonio Novelo, who has previously blamed murders on disputes between criminal cartels, said high-impact crimes are being committed by criminal elements arriving from Tijuana.
The Attorney General says organized crime is behind 85% of homicides in Ensenada and throughout the state.
In April, Mayor Novelo announced the allocation of 30 million pesos (US $1.64 million) in federal funds for the purchase of new patrol vehicles and tactical crime prevention equipment.
Two homicides in particular that have made headlines recently were the gruesome killings of two retired teachers whose heads were discovered May 28 on the Ensenada-Tijuana highway.
A 52-year-old man, also a teacher, has been charged with murder.
After the heads were found, authorities located the victims’ torsos but their legs had been removed.
An autopsy determined that both victims had been decapitated while alive.
The suspect had known the victims for 30 years.