TIJUANA (Border Report) — The level of violence in Tijuana remains high with the total number of murders getting close to 2,000 for the year, something Mayor Arturo González Cruz hoped to avoid.

So far this year, 1,918 homicides have been reported, including 12 murders just this past weekend in Tijuana. Halfway through December alone, 76 murders have occurred.

The number of homicides in Tijuana in 2019 was more than 2,100.

“We are still expecting 2019 to have been the most violent,” Laura Calderón told the Voice of San Diego. “But it’s still very high and very shocking in comparison to the rest of the country.”

Calderón, who is the program director of the Justice in Mexico program at the University of San Diego, said Tijuana has the highest murder rate per capita in Mexico.

“We know Tijuana is a major strategic point for drug trafficking and lately even more so for drug production,” Calderón said.

After the arrest of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán in 2016, Calderón said, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel became increasingly involved in Tijuana. And she says the cartel’s presence in Tijuana has intensified in recent years adding to the violence.

“They’re not only fighting for major plazas and smuggling routes, but they’re also fighting for street corners,” Calderón said. “There are so many low-level dealers battling for individual blocks, the violence stemming from them in recent years has differed from the drug violence of the past.”

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Calderón told the Voice of San Diego that COVID-19 is having some impact on the cartels’ operations in the Tijuana region.

“What we do know about COVID-19 is that it is affecting the logistics of criminal organizations,” Calderón said. “The border is closed, some of the largest ports are restricted.”

Calderón believes the level of violence will continue for several reasons including the fact that Mexico’s National Guard has had to concentrate its efforts on enforcing COVID-19 health protocols instead of patrolling and acting against drug cartels.

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