By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Just two days after cartel violence wreaked mayhem in Mexico’s central states of Jalisco and Guanajuato, similar attacks gripped the country’s border city of Ciudad Juárez late Thursday, Aug. 11, leaving at least 11 people dead and six arrested, and Tijuana, on Friday, Aug. 12.
Violence was also reported in the northern border towns of Mexicali, Rosarito and Ensenada, where vehicles set aflame and roadblocks constructed by warring cartel members.
In Tijuana, which is just across from the California city of San Diego, the U.S. Consulate told its employees “to shelter in place” Friday due to the violence.
Meanwhile, Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero, a member of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, courted anger from residents and opposition party members for pleading on television to organized crime groups to “keep their fighting among themselves” and not involve innocent citizenry, and, appealing to local venders to “pay their bills” to the members of organized crime that are extorting them.
On Saturday, government authorities arrested 164 alleged drug cartel members in northern Mexico who were purportedly involved in the violence.
According to government sources, the detainees were mostly members of the New Generation Jalisco Cartel (CJNL) and the so-called United Cartels, a loose alliance of small groups fighting the CJNG for their turf.
Across the state of Baja California, authorities said at least 24 vehicles had been set on fire in various cities.
Ciudad Juárez, which is located in the northern state of Chihuahua, just south of El Paso, Texas, witnessed a rash of violence that included the burning of vehicles and local businesses, as well as the death of a local radio anchor, Mexican authorities reported.
According to Chihuahua prosecutor reports, the chaos began with a prison riot that led to the death of two inmates.
Local media attributed the riot to the Sinaloa Cartel, whose former leader, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is currently serving a life sentence in the United States.
Later that day, two women were reported shot and killed and another person wounded in an attack at a Ciudad Juárez Oxxo convenience store, which was subsequently set on fire.
Acts of violence and armed attacks continued throughout the day, culminating in the shooting of four radio station employees at a pizzeria.
At the same time, violence re-erupted in the central states of Michoacán and Jalisco, with more vehicles being burned.
In his daily press conference on Friday, Aug. 12, López Obrador chalked up the spree of violence as the consequence of warring drug cartels, reiterating his commitment to not use aggression against criminal groups, the banner of his hugs-not-bullets policy.
Meanwhile, the incidence of violence continues to grow in Mexico, with an increase of more than 300 percent in the number of violent murders over the course of the last 15 years.
And under AMLO, the incidence of violent crime has surged to nearly 160,000 murders in just three and a half years of his presidency, putting him on track to become the president with the worst violent crime record in the nation’s history.
At the same time, the effective prosecution rate for homicides in Mexico continues to hover around 2 percent, according to the Brookings Institution.