Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua - A total of 253 people were murdered last month in Ciudad Juarez, a border city in the northern state of Chihuahua, making May the most violent month of the year in Mexico’s murder capital, prosecutors said.
Drug-related killings totaled 227 in January, 163 in February, 203 in March and 240 in April, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said.
“The numbers speak for themselves, this is evidence that authorities are not doing their jobs well,” a representative of a grassroots group in Ciudad Juarez said.
Local, state and federal officials met May 28 to discuss the first 100 days of “Todos Somos Juarez,” a social development program launched in the wake of the killings of 16 people, the majority of them students, at a birthday party in the border city on Jan. 31.
The program seeks to reduce crime and violence in Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, by restoring the city’s social fabric.
Many in Juarez, however, contend the program has yielded few results.
Residents of the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood gathered for a Mass on Monday to mark four months since the birthday party massacre.
Relatives and friends of the massacre victims released white balloons to remember the young men and protest the violence and impunity in Juarez.
“In memory of our kids and for the desire we all have for peace in the city,” the mother of Jose Luis Aguilar Camargo, a 19-year-old university student gunned down at the party, told Efe.
Ciudad Juarez, where more than 5,000 people have been murdered since 2008, has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
The murder rate took off in the border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when 310 people were killed, then it more than tripled to 1,607 in 2008, according to state AG’s office figures, with the number of killings climbing to 2,635 last year.
The death toll for this year currently stands at 1,086.
Ciudad Juarez, with 191 homicides per 100,000 residents, was the most violent city in the world in 2009, registering a higher murder rate than San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Caracas and Guatemala, two Mexican non-governmental organizations said in a report released earlier this year.
President Felipe Calderon’s administration has deployed about 5,000 Federal Police officers in the border city to try to stem a wave of violence unleashed by drug cartels battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
The Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, backed by hitmen from local street gangs, have been fighting for control of the border city.
La Linea is believed to be working for the Juarez cartel.
Press reports say the Sinaloa organization, Mexico’s oldest and largest drug cartel, has effectively taken control of Juarez.