Cablegate: Quantifying Violence: Tijuana's Drug Violence As Reflected

301931Z OCT 09

2009-10-30 19:31:00
Consulate Tijuana
301931Z OCT 09



E.O. 12958: N/A




(SBU) SUMMARY: Various political leaders, security officials,
and business figures in Tijuana claim - as did the Mayor during
the Ambassador's recent visit (ref A) - that successful
civilian-military law enforcement cooperation here has produced
substantial progress in diminishing narco-related violence, but
it is difficult to obtain reliable statistics to prove these
claims. Official statistics do show a drop in murders in 2009
as compared to the previous year, but other types of crime, such
as kidnappings, have increased. More importantly, lethal
attacks on police and government officials have continued at an
unprecedented pace. It is widely believed that violent crime
statistics are artificially low because many citizens are afraid
to report incidents to authorities whom they suspect have been
corrupted by drug-trafficking organizations (DTO's). To the
extent that the overall murder rate has dropped, many attribute
this to the unusually good personal collaboration between the
current Mexican Army commander and the Tijuana police chief, who
is himself a former military officer. But this personal
collaboration could end when one or both of these individuals
move on. (END SUMMARY)

2. (SBU) Local politicians and law enforcement officials
point to the steep drop in narco-related murders in Baja
California, from 604 in 2008 to 202 in the first nine months of
2009, and a ten percent drop in overall crime in the first six
months of 2009 versus the same period in 2008 (ref B). Most
analysts credit the appointment of former military men to head
municipal police entities, in particular Julian Leyzaola in
Tijuana, and the state "preventative police" in Baja California,
for better cooperation between civilian law enforcement and
military forces resulting in some improvement in the security
situation since 2008. Observers also note that the military has
been deployed longer in Baja than in other hotspots along the
border, such as Ciudad Juarez.

3. (SBU) Still, these statistics need to be viewed in
context. An improvement over 2008 isn't saying much. Even
Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos admitted that "~2008 was a horrible
year for the city", with gun fights in busy streets being almost
commonplace, and DTOs acting with near impunity. Most agree
the city has been brought back from the brink, but Tijuana
remains disputed territory between rival lieutenants of the
Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) and Sinaloa DTO and therefore
remains a high-crime city. Even if overall crime is down
slightly from last year, certain types of crimes are increasing.
"Deprivation of liberty" - kidnapping with no ransom, generally
associated with DTOs - is up from 235 reported incidents in the
first half of 2008 to 292 in 2009. The number of reported
kidnapping with ransom remained steady. Tijuana's murder rate
is still higher today than it was in 2005-2007. There have been
40 policemen killed in Baja California (most in Tijuana) so far
in 2009 - on track to meet or exceed the 49 killed in all of

4. (SBU) Moreover, the progress that has been made is
largely due to a personal relationship between Leyzaola and the
military General deployed here. The relationship is not
institutionalized and could whither with changing personalities.
Despite efforts to weed out corrupt municipal police, there
has been no progress on wholesale institutional reform needed,
such as creation of a civil service career structure, better
training, and more consistent leadership. More importantly,
progress on the streets has not been matched by progress in the
judicial sector. For example, the local military and state
police provided Post an impressive list of arrests and seizures
of drugs and money for 2009. Even if the numbers are to be
believed - and some USG sources have noted that "Baja California
features statistics that are exceptionally and suspiciously
higher than any other state" - there are no records of follow-on
prosecutions resulting from these seizures. Without this piece
of the puzzle, making permanent inroads against the DTOs will
remain elusive.

© Scoop Media

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