With 411 homicides reported so far this year, Tijuana is en route to breaking recent records.
Just three and half months into the year and the number of murders is close to half the 900 registered in 2016, and about the same number as all homicides recorded in each of 2006, 2007 and 2011.
As with most violent spots in Mexico, the murders are the result of inter-gang warfare, in this case between the Sinaloa Cartel, the Arellano Félix gang and others who are operating independently, said Baja California Security Secretary Daniel De La Rosa Anaya.
But another factor has also been cited by local officials. The mayor claims the new criminal justice system is letting gangsters back out on the streets after they have been arrested for crimes.
Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum Buenrostro said they cannot be detained under the previous preventive custody measures because to do so now is unconstitutional.
“It’s a good system in that it guarantees the presumption of innocence,” the mayor said. “What does not help is that the catalogue of crimes that merit preventive imprisonment is very short — only five.”
Reforms are needed, he said.
More police are also needed, according to the municipality’s security chief, Marco Antonio Sotomayor. Tijuana needs more than double the 1,500 officers it now has, he said, to serve a population of over 1.6 million.
“The ideal would be to have a force with double the number of personnel, but we have to be realistic; we’re hoping to increase the force by about 600 officers over the next three years.”
There could be one more homicide to add to this year’s 411 following the shooting last night of the Tijuana homicide coordinator at the state Attorney General’s office. André Cato was in serious condition today after he was attacked by gunmen who fired at least 20 shots at him while he was traveling in his vehicle.