With homicides on the rise, Tijuana business and civic leaders are calling for Mexico’s military to once again head up Baja California’s efforts against organized crime, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Members of the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial in Tijuana, an influential business umbrella group, and the city’s Citizens Council for Pubic Safety are urging the passage of a new federal “law of internal security” that would allow Mexican soldiers to carry out civilian public safety duties. “We don’t want to go back to the past, to the situation of 2007 and 2008,” said the council’s Juan Manuel Hernández, describing a period of high-impact violence, including gruesome beheadings, public shootouts, and kidnappings.
The call for an expanded military role has come as more than 530 homicides have been registered in Tijuana this year. If the killings continue at the current pace, this year’s total will exceed last year’s record 916 homicides. State homicide investigators have attributed much of the violence to turf battles among low-level street drug dealers rather than an all-out war among the dominant drug organizations that held the city in its grip a decade ago. The Business Coordinating Councils for Baja California’s five municipalities said that this explanation fails to take into account the effects of crime on the general population. “Enough of saying that it’s just criminals killing each other, and that the law-abiding Tijuanenses are living in peace,” the statement said, noting that crimes such as street robberies, residential and business burglaries, and car thefts are also on the rise.