Mexico: narco-killing spree shakes Tijuana

With bodies still emerging daily throughout the city, the toll of residents killed narco-violence in Tijuana over the past week is approaching 50. Five bodies turned up in an alley between two shopping centers and nine on a vacant lot outside a daycare center—where a message nearby read: “Here are your people.” The bodies in the lot were found face down with their hands tied behind their backs, and the ground was littered with shell casings. Another five were discovered in a van with US license plates. Two more were found beheaded, wrapped in blankets on a roadside, with the severed heads in plastic bags. Outside a popular seafood restaurant, the remains of two people were found stuffed in a barrel and dissolved with acid.

Baja California’s state prosecutor office blamed the violence on warring leaders within the Arellano Felix drug gang. A sign on one of the barrels warned of a similar fate for “The Engineer” and the people who “hang out with The Engineer.” The Engineer is a nickname for Fernando Sánchez Arellano, the head of the Arellano Félix cartel. More than 400 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Tijuana this year. (Xinhua, AP, Oct. 4; San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct. 1)

Ciudad Juarez has notched more than 1,000 killings so far this year amid a gang war for control of its smuggling routes. Nationwide, some 3,000 have been killed in narco-violence so far this year. (Houston Chronicle, Oct. 4)

Seeking an alternative approach to the crisis, President Felipe Calderón submitted to Mexico’s Congress Oct. 2 a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs—similar to a one proposed by his predecessor that was scrapped following US government criticism. Calderón’s bill would allow possession of up to 0.5 grams of cocaine, 2 grams of marijuana, or 0.05 grams of heroin. Users caught with these quantities or less would face no charges if they complete medical treatment or prevention programs. (Bloomberg, Oct. 3)

See our last posts on Mexico and the narco crisis.