Juarez Mayor Reyes Ferriz: "(The) national war is necessary"
by Sito Negron
Posted on August 13, 2009
Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz touted the reconstruction of his city's police department and the successes of the Mexican Army's deployment there, while also calling for the U.S. to stop what he termed the dumping in Juarez of deported criminals from other parts of Mexico.
Reyes, speaking at the UTEP Conference on Border Security, opened with a brief history describing the evolution of the problems in his city.
He said that wages in maquilas were more than in the rest of the country, providing for entire families, and that the quality of life on the border grew. But he said that the government spent its money on infrastructure for the maquilas, and not for civil infrastructure.
"These are mistakes we're paying for now," he said.
Reyes said that in 10 years the police department grew only 20 percent while the population of the city doubled.
"In order to correct our mistakes we have to recruit new personnel," he said. And to do that, he said, "we had to deal with another mistake," which was nationally, to clean up police departments.
He said Juarez was unique among 150 cities in Mexico in instituting confidence exams, which "cleaned up basically half the police department."
Reyes Ferriz said the "national war is necessary. It had to be done and has been successful in the country, but it aggravated the situation along the border."
Acknowledging criticism, he called it lucky for Juarez that the army arrived in March, 2008.
He said that by July of last year the operation reached its goals of disarming the financial structure of cartels, which was why bank robberies went to 10 a month, convenience store robberies went to 10 a day and other store robberies to 17 a day.
In negotiations with the army over taking over local law enforcement, Reyes Ferriz said, the army said the police force needed wholesale firings. On Oct. 17, he said, 300 officers were fired, and 370 more either did not show up to work or "pre-retired."
More troops came in March, 2009, he said, and "we immediately saw crime go down, 10 killings a day went to one, 10 bank robberies a month went to two, 1,900 car robberies a month went to 900, 10 convenience store robberies a day went to two."
The lull in homicides was temporary, he admitted, given the upsurge in the last few months. A record 248 people were reported killed in July.
Reyes Ferriz, however, said it "doesn't show the program is not successful; it shows we need to continue to change."
He said the nature of the killings is different -- instead of shootouts with large-caliber weapons on the streets, the killing is done more quietly with smaller arms.
He also said that the flow of money has been lessened, which unfortunately has led to a stepped-up effort on the part of organized crime to set up street sales operations in Juarez. The cartels are recruiting teenagers, he said, and the results are that two-thirds of those killed in the last months have been ages 14-22.
But he said "next month, the police force will be at 3,000. Fortunately for Juarez things that needed to be done are being done and that is a direct result of (President Felipe) Calderon."
"The next part will be the tough part, getting those kids to work and getting those kids the values that will hep them reject those values (of crime)," he said.
Reyes Ferriz closed with an appeal to U.S. authorities to stop deporting criminal migrants to Juarez. He said about 7,000 people a year are dumped in his city by the U.S., even though the people are from elsewhere in Mexico. He claimed that most of them were gang members, largely Barrio Aztecas, who made up only 1,000 people eight year ago and now come to about 7,000 in Juarez, "all of them deported from the U.S., all of them with criminal ties within the U.S. We need to send them to Mexico City, have them distributed to their own towns and stop the concentration in Cd. Juarez."
Most Viewed Stories
- Program for the Global Public Policy Forum on the U.S. War on Drugs
- Chico's Tacos incident sparks protest and strong words from City Hall
- Downtown Diary: Steers, Beers, and Queers in Marfa
- Making love with monsters
- Police Blotter 2.12.09: Bank robber nabbed; FBI says powder sent to offices not harmful; first homicide arrest; top collision intersections; 17-year-old shot self
- City Council needs six votes to override mayoral Drug War veto
- Sex clubs and swingers in El Paso
- Charlando con Larry Medina
- My Brother's Body: A True Story
- Coronado cheerleaders rock in Colorado