By Diana Washington Valdez\
El Paso Times
The Chihuahua prosecutor general said Tuesday that within the Juárez region there are more than 9,000 active drug cartel members.
It is the first time a Mexican official has quantified the warring drug cartel organizations' membership.
Carlos Manuel Salas, the state's chief prosecutor, provided the figures and other information in a statement after a meeting between Chihuahua officials and business leaders and ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who was invited to Juárez to discuss security issues.
Salas said Chihuahua officials have rejected the manner in which Juárez has become stigmatized by being called the most violent city in the world.
"What happened is that the cartels entered into a conflict, and then organized crime began to get involved in common crimes. What happened when we confronted this is that the Juárez cartel, which then had 500 people who controlled (their operations) throughout the state, added 5,000 gang members to its force," Duarte said, "and they brought weapons from the United States and began to fight the Sinaloa cartel that got hold of other gangs. In less than 60 days, this (Sinaloa) group had 4,000 armed members, and this is the challenge that the governor was faced with, but we are working each day to restore the peace to our state."
Several cities and other geographical regions in Mexico that are considered drug-trafficking corridors are identified with drug cartels. They include Juárez, Tijuana, Sinaloa and the Gulf of Mexico. Colombia had the so-called Medellin and Cali cartels.
Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte said he invited Uribe to share his experiences in fighting the cartels in Colombia.
"The first time I met President Uribe, he told me that we should not permit a city to bear a cartel's name because it would give the city a bad name and it would be very hard to get rid of the stigma," Duarte said.
Salas said law officials have reported a 500 percent increase in detentions during the past eight months.
More than 8,000 people have been killed in the drug conflict in Juárez since 2008.
Juarenses will receive the Caravan for Peace today
By Lourdes Cardenas
El Paso Times
Today, the people of Ciudad Juárez will greet and receive the Caravana for Peace with Justice and Dignity.
The Caravana, headed by poet Javier Sicilia and more than a dozen civic organizations, will arrive to Juárez on June 9 after a journey of more than 1,800 traveling miles and several meetings in some of the cities most affected by drug-trafficking violence. Massive events in the city are planned for Friday.
Sicilia became a public figure after the brutal murder of his son, Juan Francisco, along with other six young men on March 28 in the city of Cuernavaca. Sicilia, who is also a journalist from the prestigious magazine Proceso, has become a strong voice demanding justice for all the victims of drug-trafficking violence and an end to the government's drug war.