Lorena Figueroa, El Paso Times Published 6:09 p.m. MT Jan. 4, 2016
Chihuahua Attorney General Jorge González Nicolás, (second from right) along with state and Juarez officials, release a report of crimes committed in the city during 2015. Foto Raul Lodoza El Diario(Photo: Courtesy of the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office)
JUAREZ — In 2015, Juárez reported 311 homicides — the fewest number of slayings since a surge in drug-related violence began eight years ago, officials said Monday.
“Juárez has gained a great achievement in the area of security,” Chihuahua Attorney General Jorge González Nicolás said Monday during the presentation of the city’s crime statistics for 2015. “Juárez made it, despite having complex violence problems.”
The number of killings in Juárez have been falling since 2010 when drug cartel violence reached its peak. In 2015, homicides dropped from the 438 slayings reported in 2014, according to the agency’s statistics.
Statistics also show that violent deaths last year were less than the 336 homicides in 2007, the year when homicides began increasing as the Sinaloa cartel declared war on the Juárez cartel and moved in to take over its territory.
Homicides in the city peaked with 3,057 in 2010 when Juárez gained the title as one of the most violent cities in the world.
State and local officials said that the decrease in crime is due to better coordination among all three levels of government in investigations and arresting criminals, tougher sentences, better equipped law enforcement agencies and citizen engagement as it pertains to reporting crimes.
The professionalization of the Juárez police department has also helped, as has the reduction of corruption among officers who constantly undergo reliability tests, said Juárez Mayor Javier González Mocken.
Just last year, there were 300 officers fired because they failed to pass the tests, he said. Currently, there are more than 2,200 police officers in the city.
“Juárez deserves to have peace,” he said. “And we all feel a sense of tranquility because we are seeing more job vacancies and investments in the city.”
Nicolás González said he is optimistic that in 2016 the number of killings will continue dropping to reach less than 300 — the average number of homicides reported from 1995 to 2007.
“There is still work to do. There is a commitment from authorities of the three levels of government to improve security in Juárez,” he said.
The state attorney general’s office also reported a drastic decline in the number of carjackings or violent vehicle thefts in 2015 when there were 229.
The number of carjackings last year was 25 percent less than in 2007, when there were 305. They were 94 percent less than 2011, when there were 4,495. In that year, one of every four carjackings in Mexico occurred in Juárez.
Extortion, which used to be a major problem in Juárez, has also declined, Nicolás González said. Five years ago, during the most violent years, up to 8,000 businesses in the city were paying some sort of extortion fee to organized crime or a “quota” for the right to conduct business.
He said extortion cases fell to five cases in 2015 after reaching a peak with 120 reported cases in 2012. Last year’s five cases were an increase compared with 2014 when there were only two.
Nicolás González said that recent extortion cases are not related to organized crime and that the perpetrators were already convicted and are in jail.
He pointed out that kidnappings have been eradicated. In the last 27 months, there have been no reported kidnappings, he said.
There were at least 76 kidnappings reported in 2010, according to the state attorney general’s office statistics.
Lorena Figueroa may be reached at 546-6129; email@example.com; @LFigueroaEPT on Twitter.
Read or Share this story: www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/world/juarez/2016/01/04/homicides-jurez-2015-drop-07-levels/78280942/