A further deterioration of the security situation in Jalisco is imminent, Governor Aristóteles Sandoval warned in a frank admission yesterday.
“Complicated days are coming, I won’t lie to you. The wave of violence isn’t going to end . . .” Sandoval said.
But the governor also stressed that Jalisco authorities will do all they can to combat rising levels of violent crime “to prevent this crisis from shaking our state.”
There were 60 homicides in Jalisco in the first week of March following more than 120 in both January and February. The metropolitan area of Guadalajara has been hit hard by the escalating violence.
Tuesday was a particularly bloody day: eight bodies were found in an abandoned pickup truck in the Morelos neighborhood. They were among 19 homicides recorded in the state that day.
Attorney General Raúl Sánchez Jiménez yesterday attributed the increased violence in the state capital to a turf war between rival drug cartels.
Speaking at an event at which he distributed police equipment to officers from 112 municipal forces, the governor said that better coordination between police forces as well as round-the-clock effort by all three levels of government is needed to combat crime.
“. . . Without excuse or pretext, we have to improve the coordination between forces . . . we [also] want to have authorities dedicated full-time to their roles, a 24/7 governor, 24/7 mayors; we must understand that the situation is critical and there are no signs of it improving,” Sandoval said.
He also asserted that civil society has a role to play in containing the threat from organized crime, saying “let’s not stop raising our voices because if violence is normalized we will have lost the battle.”
In addition, the governor took the opportunity to offer some blunt advice to young people who have swelled the ranks of criminal gangs.
“. . . to the young people who believed that this is the easiest way out, to those who believe that this is the way to live better, you’re mistaken . . . if you don’t end up being arrested by one of our fine officers, you’re going to end up in a coffin because of the disputes all these groups have,” he said.
Sandoval also recognized that some police forces have been infiltrated by members of criminal gangs and said that six municipal forces had consequently been disarmed by state authorities. In some cases, criminals co-opt officers through extortion and threats, he said.
Among the municipalities where the state Attorney General’s office has intervened is Tecalitlán, where three Italian men disappeared on January 31.
Authorities arrested four municipal officers in connection with their disappearance on February 24 and said the police confessed that they “sold” the Italians to criminal organization.