A new municipal police force made up of 422 certified officers will begin patrolling the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, officials said.
The announcement came after a meeting in Mexico City Friday between the governor of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located, Cesar Duarte; Ciudad Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia; and Mexican Government Minister Jose Francisco Blake, as well as other federal security officials.
The new police force is one of a series of measures being implemented to stem the violence in Juarez.
Mexico’s poorly paid and ill-equipped municipal police officers are frequently bought off by drug cartels or other organized-crime elements, according to federal authorities, who have proposed streamlining city police forces into 32 state police departments.
Ciudad Juarez, where more than 7,000 people have been murdered since 2008, has been plagued by drug-related violence for years and the number of homicides topped 3,100 in 2010.
The violence is blamed on a war for control of the border city being waged by the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels.
Juarez first gained notoriety in the early 1990s when young women began to disappear in the area. More than 500 women and girls have been killed here since 1993, with the majority of the cases going unsolved.
More than 34,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
As part of that strategy, federal police officers and army soldiers have been deployed to Ciudad Juarez.