Chihuahua is the biggest state in Mexico. It’s located on Mexico’s northern border, across from Texas and New Mexico.
Chihuahua is actually one of Mexico’s more prosperous states, rated "high" on the United Nations Human Development Index.
But this prosperity has been marred by terrible violence in recent decades. The State Department’s Mexico Travel Advisory lists Chihuahua on the “Reconsider Travel” category, “due to crime and kidnapping."
For years, drug cartels have been fighting each other in Chihuahua.
American drug addicts are the biggest customers and financiers of the Mexican drug cartels. Since the drugs have to pass from Mexico into the U.S., the border is the scene of conflict among drug cartels.
But the cartels don’t limit themselves to drug smuggling. They also engage in other enterprises.
Smuggling migrants, for example.
Julian Resendiz of Border Report recently wrote an article about the Chihuahua situation.
It begins thusly:
Cartel infighting for control of migrant smuggling is driving up homicide rates in Chihuahua, the state’s top prosecutor says.
That’s because local gangs are trying to get an ever-bigger cut of an illicit activity that generates $50 million to $70 million in monthly profits just in an area that stretches from the eastern edge of Big Bend National Park in Far West Texas to the New Mexico-Arizona state line. The area roughly corresponds to the El Paso Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, which remains the busiest in the nation in terms of migrant encounters or apprehensions."
The article quotes Cesar Jauregui, the state’s Attorney General, who says:
"It is clear to us what is going on. Criminal groups are having disputes and there is an increase in homicides related to people-trafficking. They are disputing control (of territory) and that has led to people being murdered for being involved in people-trafficking.”
The first three months of 2023 saw 571 homicides in Chihuahua, compared to 424 during the same period in 2022. That’s an increase of 35%.
Most of those murders were perpetrated in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.
The Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y Justicia Penal (Citizens' Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice) is a Mexican NGO that annually releases a list of the world’s fifty most murderous cities.
According to that group, Ciudad Juarez was the world’s ninth most-murderous city in 2022.
So if things continue as they are now, Ciudad Juarez might be even higher on the 2023 list.
More from Attorney General Jauregui:
“This war they are having over control of the migrants – or chickens (pollos), as they call them – and what people pay to get crossed to the (U.S.) side is what has brought about the increase in homicides. It’s practically the same groups dedicated to narco-trafficking; they are also in control of this (migrant smuggling) activity. That is why we are certain that the increase is because of the events I am describing.”
What the migrants are paying has gone up, and so has the violence.
The two principal cartels involved are the Sinaloa cartel and La Linea, which is the old Juarez cartel.
U.S. security experts have told Border Report why the Mexican drug cartels in recent years have moved to take control of migrant smuggling. Each migrant represents between $8,000 and $15,000 in profits and, unlike drugs, the criminal does not lose money if the "merchandise" is seized by U.S. authorities because the migrant already paid the fees.
That’s why control of gateway cities or "plazas" on the U.S.-Mexico border often leads to a high body count. "Who owns that door will make a lot of money," said Victor M. Manjarrez Jr., director of the Center for Law and Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso. "This is a battle for real estate."
The Biden Border Rush is very lucrative for the drug cartels. And it’s made the Mexican state of Chihuahua even deadlier.
You can find more of Allan Wall's work at his website.