Violence continues to worsen in the state of Chihuahua, where more than 50 executions were recorded in the first nine days of 2018.
The figures are shaping up to make this month one of the most violent for the northern state in recent years.
During the entire same month last year there were 68 assassinations. By yesterday, state authorities had tallied 52 executions, or homicides carried out with a firearm.
Six of those crimes were reported yesterday alone after the discovery of three bodies in a mass grave and the execution of three men in the state capital.
Authorities explain the increase in homicides as the result of an internal power struggle between splinter cells of the Juárez Cartel.
Previously conflicts were caused by the ongoing turf war between the Juárez and Sinaloa cartels.
Attorney General César Augusto Peniche Espejel points to one event that unleashed the unprecedented wave of homicides.
In October police arrested René Gerardo Santana Garza, leader of the Los Aztecas gang, a splinter cell of the Juárez Cartel, on charges of homicide and drug trafficking.
But in December a federal judge ordered Santana’s release, ruling there was insufficient evidence against him.
The few weeks Santana spent behind bars were enough for another Juárez splinter cell, led by Juan Pablo Vázquez Olivas, also known as “El Compadre,” to gain strength.
Internal warfare broke out on December 27 upon Santana’s release as the two vie for absolute control within the Juárez Cartel and drug sales in the cities of Chihuahua and Juárez.
Attorney General Peniche explained that most homicides perpetrated over the past week or so can be attributed to the conflict.
The turf war between the Juárez and Sinaloa cartels continues, added Peniche, shifting to mountainous areas of the state where marijuana and opium poppy plantations are located, and to drug trafficking routes to the United States.
A deployment of 250 Federal Police arrived on Saturday, doubling the number of officers working in the state.
Peniche explained that over the last week some 20 members of different gangs have been arrested, an effort that will dismantle their internal structure. But such action increases the risk of renewed internal power struggles and violence, he said.
Source: El Universal (sp)