Sunday, December 27, 2009

No Quick Fix Seen for Drug Battle in Juárez

El Paso Times


The Juárez of old is gone.

In its place is a paralyzing and vicious 2-year-old drug war that has the 1.5 million residents in the manufacturing border town living in fear, even as city leaders pledge to never give in to the powerful cartels that are using the city's streets as a killing ground.

The axis of the problem remains the same: The Sinaloa Cartel and its leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán are trying to wrest control of the Juárez drug-trafficking corridor from the Juárez Cartel and its leader, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.

Neither side has been able to defeat the other after two years. As a result, Juárez has gone from a popular tourist attraction to the murder capital of North America. Juárez had more than 1,600 murders in 2008 and 2,580 this year.

That translates to 165 deaths in Juárez per 100,000 residents. In Baghdad, there are 48 deaths per 100,000 residents.

One expert on Mexico said the violence may not ease for some time, as both cartels are entrenched and neither is backing down.

"Inasmuch as neither organization can completely exterminate the other, the carnage is likely to continue for a while," said Tony Payan, a University of Texas at El Paso professor, whose expertise is Mexico. "Nobody really knows how long, but it is likely to continue."

Two years ago, when the cartels declared war, the grand prize was the Juárez Plaza. Each saw control of the plaza as an exclusive right to ship drugs into the United States through El Paso and Juárez.

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