In just over thirty years the city of Ciudad Juárez has been the morbid scene of countless atrocious and unstoppable feminicides until it has been unofficially called “the city where young women die” or “the world capital of murder”. The local justice of this Mexican city is completely at a standstill when it comes to trying anything to stop the crimes and the cycle of horror has been perpetuated for thirty years in the most total impunity.
1. Ciudad Juárez, sixth largest city in Mexico
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Located on the border of Mexico and the United States, Ciudad Juárez or simply Juárez is the sixth largest city in the country. The main economic activity of the city is the maquiladora industry, a kind of industry specific to Central America and especially concentrated in the border part of Mexico which consists of assembling products for export without paying customs fees . The products enter the city, are assembled there and then exported at a lower cost and the workforce is mainly female and most of the victims of Juárez work there.
2. The Shadow of the Juárez Cartel
Many Mexican territories are shared between different cartels and whoever “owns” the city of Juárez also takes its name from it and is among the most freakish cartels in the world. Created in the 70s, it was one of the most influential in Mexico, for good reason, it was the first cartel to have bought its own bank in order to launder its money (not stupid) and had its own paramilitary army made up in part of active police officers and former agents of the same corps.
Moreover, the cartel had as an ally the Mexican general responsible for the fight against drugs, which gives an idea of the corruption and the inaction of the “forces of order” in the region. In terms of violence, the Juárez Cartel is famous for the way it displayed the bodies of its victims, in order to serve as examples and instill fear. The torture and beheading of rivals was also a means of incurring the fear of enemies.
3. The Murder Capital of the World
Notorious for its crime rate, the city suffers partly from the damage caused by the cartel’s activities but also from various other crimes which are sadly enabled by the inaction and corruption of the authorities. The other major point that pushes Juárez up in the ranking of the most dangerous cities in the world is obviously the numerous feminicides that have affected the city for more than thirty years. In 2019, Juárez was actually the second most dangerous city in the world, ranked (just) behind Tijuana.
4. Hundreds of missing in 30 years
The series of murders began during the year 1993 and the bodies of several women aged between 13 and 25 were discovered in the streets of the city where the desert adjoins it. Quickly, the number of feminicides skyrocketed and became so large that the number estimates diverge. Until 2013, some sources claim that 1,441 murders had been committed, whereas Amnesty International estimates that there had already been 1,653 before 2008. On the other hand, the number of missing persons whose bodies have not been found is also amazing since there are nearly 2,500 women in the city who have been lost to sight over the past thirty years.
5. Incredibly violent crimes
Femicide is often accompanied by sexual abuse and rape, which has been observed on more than a hundred corpses. In general, the bodies show signs of brutal violence and are sometimes so “deformed” or “damaged” that the victims cannot be identified. A majority of the murdered women are employees of the famous maquiladoras mentioned above and have no proven link with the cartels whose settling of accounts and activities also cause hundreds of deaths.
6. Disappearances that are not the priority of the authorities
Most of the crimes remain unsolved, the local police not giving more means and time to investigate them. Their main excuse is that they also have to deal with the activities of the cartel, whose various settling of scores caused close to 11,000 deaths in the city between 2008 and 2012 alone. The authorities are overwhelmed, partially hampered by the pervasive corruption and the relentless stream of crimes coming to the city which obviously does not help to focus on an investigation.
7. A rebellious population
Faced with the growing number of unsolved crimes and murders left uninvestigated, the inhabitants of the city growl and try to make their anger heard. A group of victims’ family members and loved ones created the movement ‘Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa’ (Our daughters must go home) to raise awareness of police inactivity and get the government to move . Members of the NHRC movement are often the target of attacks, threats and pressure but continue to try to make their voices heard.
8. Leads to nothing and botched investigations
Initially the trail of several serial killers had been defended by the police, several people had been arrested but it was soon realized that many of them had been forced to make false confessions, many were wrongfully imprisoned and others who were arrested in the act have been released after only a few years of imprisonment. The total management of the whole affair is chaotic, without any follow-up and several examples of the police obstructing the investigations have been noted.
9. The trail of an increasingly serious organization
Some people believe that the murders of previous years are the work of an organization that captures young women, uses them as sex slaves and quickly kills them. In 2022 nearly 26 women were killed in the city and an FBI investigation went unanswered for local authorities. On the other hand, some policemen and soldiers working in the city are said to have even sexually taken advantage of the sequestered women.