Violence in Tijuana Continues After Unprecedented Number of Homicides Recorded in 2017

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After spiking to unprecedented levels last year, the bloodshed in Tijuana has continued at an unrelenting pace in the first days of the new year as two powerful drug trafficking organizations battle for control of the city’s lucrative street drug sales: The long-established Sinaloa cartel and a newer, aggressive group known as the cartel Nueva Generación Jalisco, often abbreviated as CJNG.

More than 600 human bone fragments were found in the mass grave. (Credit: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensic personnel arrive at the property where a mass grave was found, in eastern Tijuana, Mexico on August 17, 2017.
More than 600 human bone fragments were found in the mass grave. (Credit: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)

As homicides soared to unprecedented levels across Mexico in 2017, Tijuana registered one of the steepest increases in the country. The tally for the year was a record 1,744 homicides — almost double the record of 910 homicides set in 2016, according to figures from the Baja California Attorney General’s Office.

“The main issue right now with the power struggle is Sinaloa and the CJNG battling for street dealers, narcomenudeo,” said an official with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, speaking on condition that he not be named. “You have got to understand, the money that they make in Tijuana, that’s as much as crossing the border” with smuggled drugs.

Though bullets have struck innocent bystanders, the killings have been largely targeted and carried out in the city’s impoverished and working class neighborhoods, authorities say. Close to 90% of the victims are low-level operatives in the local drug trade, they say.

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