After Short Respite, Drug Killings Surge In Juarez A killing spree has resumed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's most violent city. A lull in murders followed after the Mexican army took over the city's police department two months ago. Now, there is a resurgence in executions — some in broad daylight, and at a pace far higher than a year ago.
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After Short Respite, Drug Killings Surge In Juarez

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After Short Respite, Drug Killings Surge In Juarez

After Short Respite, Drug Killings Surge In Juarez

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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

As Mexico's drug war drags on, homicide has become the number one cause of death in the border city of Juarez. Federal officials in March sent in the Army to take over the Juarez Police Department. Initially, the deployments of almost 10,000 soldiers and federal police dramatically cut the murder rate in Mexico's most deadly city. But recently, there's been a resurgence of assassinations. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.

JASON BEAUBIEN: In a much less visible manner, organized criminals continue to sow fear across the city. Businessmen, police officers, university professors, are getting executed in broad daylight by gunmen with high-powered weapons.

R: (Speaking in foreign language)

BEAUBIEN: Oscar Urias Cantu, the brother of the city treasurer, was buried last week after being shot repeatedly by two men outside his house. Local newspaper reports that he had refused to make extortion payments and instead gave his life.

R: (Speaking in foreign language).

BEAUBIEN: In May, 124 people were murdered in Juarez, twice the number killed two months ago. Speaking at a local seminary where he's director, Father Hector Villas said there's a lot of fear in Juarez right now.

R: (Speaking in foreign language)

BEAUBIEN: There's something much bigger in Juarez at the moment, he says, than either the army or the police can stop. Initially, he says, the presence of the military gave people a sense of security, but that's no longer the case.

R: (Speaking in foreign language)

BEAUBIEN: This week, gunmen stormed into a drug rehab center just before midnight, shot five patients in their beds, and then disappeared back into the night. Earlier, a man was found beaten in the trunk of a car, a note on top of him warned that this is what happens to people who call the local equivalent of 911. And as the military attacks the drug cartels, the cartels have been branching out into other criminal activity.

M: (Speaking in foreign language).

BEAUBIEN: It's obvious that the people who are used to living a certain lifestyle, they aren't all of a sudden going to turn honest, says Frederico Ziga Martinez. He runs a catering business and heads up the local restaurant association. Ziga says recently, Juarez has seen a huge rise in kidnapping and extortion.

M: (Speaking in foreign language).

BEAUBIEN: Ziga says numerous restaurant owners, terrified that they or their children would get kidnapped, have shut their doors and moved to El Paso. And meanwhile, the funerals continue.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUNERAL CEREMONY)

BEAUBIEN: (Singing) Ave Maria.

BEAUBIEN: Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Juarez.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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