Residents have closed more than 2,000 streets in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s most violent city, for to keep out criminals, municipal officials said.
Neighborhood associations have decided to close off streets, erecting gates and posting security guards.
A total of 2,011 streets in 20 districts have been closed in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, the director of the city’s urban planning department, Fabiola Lara Gomez, said.
Street closings must be approved by the municipal government and residents are responsible for paying for the construction of barriers and covering security guards’ salaries.
In some cases, however, requests to close streets were denied and residents took matters into their own hands, blocking access to their neighborhoods with large stones and trash tanks, and taking turns guarding the entrances.
About 200 families have been wiped out in 10 zones heavily affected by the drug war in Ciudad Juarez, the Chihuahua state Human Rights Commission said.
Two areas are in the extreme west, two in the southeast, one along the Rio Grande and the others are in downtown Juarez, the commission said.
Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
The murder rate took off in the gritty 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 Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office figures, with the number of killings climbing to 2,754 in 2009.
More than 3,100 people were murdered in the border city last year, making 2010 the worst year since a war between rival drug gangs sent the homicide rate skyrocketing in 2008.
The killing has not slowed this year, with more than 400 people murdered in Juarez, the state AG’s office said.
The violence is blamed on a war for control of the border city being waged by the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels with backing from hitmen from local street gangs.