By the end of October, at least 96 people had been killed in Ciudad Juárez on the U.S.-Mexico border. It was the highest monthly tally since 2012, sowing fears of a return to the gangland mayhem that once earned the city the title of the most violent place in the world, the New York Times reports. Then, the bloodshed in the city was in a class of its own. Now it has company, with other Mexican cities that are as bad or worse. In the last year, the number of homicides around Mexico has soared to levels not seen in several years. In the first 10 months of this year, there were 17,063 homicide cases in Mexico, already more than last year’s total and the highest 10-month tally since 2012. The relapse in security has unnerved Mexico and led many to wonder whether the country is on the brink of a bloody, all-out war between criminal groups.
“It’s a trauma, it’s a kind of fear, among all of us who saw a killing, who heard gunshots,” said Carlos Nájera, an activist in Juárez. “Everyone’s worried about a slide to the past.” The surge in violence around Mexico reflects an increasingly volatile criminal landscape and the limitations of North America’s counternarcotics strategy. Iit has contributed to the plummeting approval ratings of President Enrique Peña Nieto. A longstanding cornerstone of the Mexican government’s fight against organized crime, backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid, has been to aim at the kingpins, on the theory that cutting off the head will wither the body. The tactic has helped to fragment monolithic, hierarchical criminal enterprises into an array of groups that are more violent and uncontrollable, analysts said. The rising insecurity poses a problem for President-elect Donald Trump, who has offered few insights into how he intends to approach the battle against narco-trafficking and crime in the hemisphere. His campaign language suggested containment strategy, its centerpiece being the construction of wall along the American border to thwart drugs and illegal immigration.