According to an expert in security matters, Gabriel Regino, it's clear that the decrease in violence is due more to this cartel's control than to a public safety strategy implemented by the three levels of government.
In an interview with El Diario, the UNAM criminologist explained that, "we see a decrease in executions because they are no longer necessary; there's territorial control and it's no longer necessary to use the violence used in the past." The homicide statistics, he pointed out, are being used as a key factor to assert that violence has declined. Despite that, he clarified, homicides considered independently cannot necessarily show that violence or unrest has declined in any particular area.
"In the case of Ciudad Juarez, there was a sharp increase in very violent deaths a few years ago, beginning in 2007 until 2010 and including part of 2011, [the numbers] reaching historical levels. This number of homicides had not been seen in in recent history in Ciudad Juarez, they were killing a lot of people because there was a dispute in the city between different criminal groups, like La Linea, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Aztecas, among others, for territorial control." The reason is that, at the national level, criminal organizations are battling amongst themselves to take control of drug smuggling routes and Juarez is a key point in this matter.
"The number of arrests or convictions of individuals responsible for these deaths is very low. The federal government tried to implement different strategies, such as militarization and use of the Federal Police, which in the end could not put a stop to the violence at that time, " he recalled. That's because, he insists, "government efficiency plays no part in criminal thinking; a criminal organization does not seek to become a killing machine, but a money making machine., and for that there's drug smuggling."
On the other hand, if the U.S. authorities tell us that there's more drugs, that prices are stable, that's a clue that there is actually a large organization that has taken temporary control in the area; "We'll see that this territorial group will sustain itself and will grow, as the incidence of extortion goes down, because once the group that gains control begins to get income from drug smuggling it will abandon other sources of income such as extortion, which were taking place during the dispute."
With respect to the efficacy of the public safety strategies implemented by the three levels of government, Gabriel Regino recalled that, "the first response took place at the federal level by sending out the Army and even with their presence, there were massacres such as the ones at Villas de Salvarcar and at the rehabilitation centers.
When there were no results from the Army presence, he asserted, [the federal government] decided to send in the Federal Police; with them, not only did things get worse, but murders went up and there was dissatisfaction with the presence of the federales, and , in fact there was even an uprising among the police officers against their own commanders, and this last development led to the return of the Army in the area. All this, he emphasized, absolutely cannot be interpreted to mean that the strategy was successful, but rather was the result of the fact that there was an ongoing dispute between powerful criminal groups in the area, and if the city is quiet today, that's because it serves the interests of a group whose objective is to smuggle drugs, not to kill people, even though that's what they did for several years in many places.
"In reality," he concludes, "what's best for a criminal organization is to have a quiet, safe zone where drugs can flow without social, political or economic problems as was the case for many years in Ciudad Juarez under the rule of that famous Senor de los Cielos (Lord of the skies)".
La Linea, still hereEven though there is evidence that the Sinaloa Cartel has taken control of almost the entire state, including the Juarez Valley, the Cartel has not been able to completely eliminate La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez Cartel that had control of the plaza for several years, declared a specialist, based on studies by Stratfor, the U.S. agency that specializes in national security matters. This interpretation is substantiated by the Stratfor, an agency that specializes in national security matters, which holds that the corridor from Sinaloa to the Chihuahua border, except for part of Ciudad Juarez, is under the control of the Sinaloa Cartel. According to Stratfor, the border area between Sonora, Sinaloa and Chihuahua is under the control of Sinaloa Federation, led by Joaquin Guzman Loera, "l Chapo." Another fringe, which encompasses the border area between Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahu, is dominated by the group known as the Pacifico Sur Cartel. The specialist consulted by El Diario points out that one of the most serious territorial disputes among the drug cartels is precisely for the [route] that goes through Chihuahua to the Juarez [international] crossing, because this is the point of origin for distribution points in the area known as the Midwest in the U.S. This crossing dominates drug distribution that reaches large urban centers of north-central United States, such as Chicago and Minneapolis. According to this "mapping", the group led by Chapo Guzman controls almost all of Baja California peninsula, except for the border area with the state of California, which remains under the control of the Felix Arellano brothers' organization.
Meanwhile, the Zeta Cartel controls all of the Gulf of Mexico coast, except for a fringe of the Tamaulipas coast still controlled by the Gulf Cartel. The specialist consulted by El Diario pointed out that the the blows that the Zetas have suffered, both in Mexico and the United States, could lead the group known as "La Linea" to end its its alliance with the Zetas. One of the signs that there is no longer a Zetas operation and that an alliance no longer exists with La Linea is that there haven't been any cases of dismembered bodies, such as take place on the eastern fringe of the country, which is the distinctive signature of the Zetas group.
"It's police work"The decrease in crime in Ciudad Juarez is due to the frontal attack on organized crime by the authorities and not because "Chapo" Guzman operates by himself here, asserted Hector Gonzalez Mocken, the head of the Chihuahua Federation of Attorney Colleges (Chihuahua state bar). The lawyer said that the purported supremacy of the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is a myth strenghtened by the fact that drug trafficking and drug addiction has decreased very little. He said that the three levels of government have undertaken a direct confrontation (with crime) that has weakened the presence of organized crime in the city. "We need to understand, "he states, "that what is said to be a weakening of one group and the growth of another is part of the myth that arises from the confrontation that Juarez lived through in the last two years, but nevertheless, it must be recognized that society and institutions have closed ranks against this scourge."
He indicated that [the authorities] have undertaken concrete actions that have helped diminish the presence of drug cartels in Juarez. He said that there 's a story going around in social circles that "El Chapo" had ended up in control of the plaza because there is still the perception that drugs continue to be distributed as usual in the area. He says, "That's the reason there's an urban legend that there's another group now in charge of trafficking and exporting narcotics to the United States, and as a result, that control explains the decrease in the murder of members of the groups that are fighting over the plaza."