Wednesday, January 2, 2013
The Mexican border states of Baja California and Sonora are losing the army general whose leadership coincided with a sharp decrease in drug violence there.
SAN DIEGO The army leader whose leadership coincided with a sharp drop in drug violence in the northern border states of Baja California and Sonora has been reassigned to a post in Mexico City. General Alfonso Duarte Múgica took charge of Mexico’s Second Military Region in mid-2008, during a spike in drug-related killings.
Duarte oversaw the capture of several prominent employees of the Arellano Félix drug trafficking organization, and drug-related violence in Tijuana dropped precipitously under his watch.
David Shirk, director of the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute, called the general the “unsung hero” of Tijuana’s improved security situation.
“In the law enforcement community on both sides of the border I think there’s a tremendous amount of respect for Gen. Duarte and the leadership he’s shown,” Shirk said.
He credits Duarte with improving coordination among the various local and federal law enforcement bodies working in the region, and with their U.S. counterparts.
“That has been, I think, probably the most important shift in law enforcement and security in Baja California over the last three or four years,” Shirk said.
The Tijuana newspaper Frontera reports that homicides in Tijuana dropped 23 percent in 2012, to 362. Shirk said the drop is consistent with a downward trend in violence observed by the Trans-Border Institute.
Still, he cautioned against crediting Duarte with the decline. A truce among drug traffickers who control the border area could be mostly responsible for the relative calm.