CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Violence has surged in Juarez this week, with Juarez media reporting 21 people have been killed and 23 vehicles burned since Tuesday.
Juarez government officials credit the violence to a planned prison search where law enforcement hoped to search for smuggled drugs and weapons. That search did occur Wednesday morning, but the violence has continued.
Former U.S. Marshal for the Western District Robert Almonte, who is an expert on cartel violence, says that may be part of the cause, but reasons for the violence go beyond that.
“The other part of it is just taking control of the area. The Juarez corridor is an extremely lucrative corridor. It’s an extremely lucrative plaza,” Almonte said.
Juarez government officials have said the Mexicles gang has been behind the spike in violence. Four people have been arrested so far. The mayor of Juarez has said civilians are not being targeted, but Almonte said he does not believe that’s the case.
“The killings are occurring out in the public where you have people, so of course everyone should be concerned. I would be extremely concerned, especially if I had family over there now,” Almonte said. “They’re violent. They’re shooting. They’re burning vehicles.”
So far this year, there have been 1,295 homicides in Juarez.