Arturo Bojórquez/Mexicali News Publisher
Over the past two years, the once quiet Mexicali Valley has suffered a strong crime wave that has bathed the rural area of the Baja California capital. In the last 24 months there has been almost daily knowledge of mafia-style murders, with hundreds of bodies being abandoned on agricultural land and showing signs of the so-called “coup de grace”, which is a firearm shot performed on the victims’ temple in order to guarantee their death.
According to the authorities, these homicides have occurred due to the struggle that exists among about a dozen criminal gangs dedicated to crimes such as drug or human trafficking to the United States and others. It is worth remembering that the increase in murder cases in Baja California have been on the rise for more than 15 years, when the now former president Felipe Calderón launched his so-called “War against Narco,” which resulted in a true fiasco and that it led to a wave of executions at the national level that neither his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto nor current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador have been able to, let alone reduce, but at least stop their increase.
Given the situation, the US Department of State has issued warnings to citizens for quite some time so that they avoid visiting the Mexicali Valley. Consular personnel are practically prohibited from going particularly at night to the different towns that make up the rural area of the neighboring municipality and other cities in the state.
And it is that although these problems occur between rival gangs, those who visit the populations of the Valley could become collateral victims in case of shootings and be in the middle of one of those crimes. It should also be recalled here the fact of the kidnappings that have occurred to merchants in the rural area that in a recent case one of those affected managed to free himself thanks to his own effort and not due to the intervention of local or state authorities.
The State Attorney General’s Office has carried out along with other law enforcement agencies such as the National Guard (created during the current federal administration to combat crime) some operations that have left few results to protect the integrity of the community and of visitors. Just a couple of weeks ago, President López Obrador inaugurated the offices of the National Guard in Mexicali, whose agents should be in charge precisely of safeguarding the communities. However, according to various media outlets, some of the criminal gangs have even dared to install checkpoints on rural roads to check and register those who visit these communities and to prevent the entry of members of rival organizations.
The new authorities for now have issued speeches in which they affirm that various strategies will be sought to attack criminal activity in the Mexicali Valley. However, just when the new Governor of Baja California Marina Ávila took office these criminal gangs held over a dozen assassinations in the state capital. The curious thing is that this wave of homicides has seen a greater rise after the arrival of the National Regeneration Movement in the municipal and state governments.
In his brief mandate, the now former Governor Jaime Bonilla simply decided to ignore the situation and chose to focus on other matters such as the collection of debts for water services, the enactment of laws that created new taxes to increase state funds and attacking those he personally regarded as his political enemies.
Mexicali Mayor Norma Bustamante and Governor Ávila decided to start their terms of office with the reinstatement of the police analysis groups in which chiefs of all the police agencies in Baja California participate, including the Army, perhaps to try to combat the problem or at least to pretend such intentions.
For now, visiting towns like Michoacán de Ocampo to try their delicious pork carnitas or Los Algodones, where one can have dental surgery, has become for us Americans a Russian roulette for which the Baja California authorities seem to lack solutions.