News Around the Republic of Mexico
|Juarez Mayor Reflects on Mexico's Violent Drug War|
Angela Kocherga - WFAA
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July 13, 2010
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico — Death threats and a drug war with no end in sight await the newly-elected mayor of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso.
Current Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz is now preparing to leave what is surely one of the toughest jobs in the world in one of the most crime-ridden cities on the planet.
During his three-year term, warring drug cartels turned Juarez into a battlefield. The crisis exposed deep-seeded corruption within the ranks of the local police force.
"In the worst cases, they were actually helping criminals, transporting drugs in city patrol cars," Ferriz said.
So Mayor Ferriz hired hundreds of new officers to replace the corrupt cops who failed drug and background tests — tests that are now mandatory.
"Cleaning up the police department cost the lives of two chiefs of police in the city, two operational chiefs. It also cost the lives of administrators that were handling the testing," Ferriz said.
The mayor has had to learn to live with death threats. "You think about it constantly," he said. "You take good care of security issues. I don't take threats lightly. I've received a lot of threats in those three years, so I take all the necessary precautions," Ferriz said.
As security deteriorated and the Juarez death toll mounted, Mexico's president sent federal forces to the city. The mayor welcomed the help, but the troop surge did not stop the bloodshed. One-hundred city employees were among those killed.
Even so, as he leaves office, Mayor Ferriz hopes he's laid the groundwork for the new administration, which takes office on October 10. "When the next mayor comes in, he's not going to be alone," Ferriz said. "He's not going to be in a position where he doesn't have a police department behind him, where he doesn't have the federal government behind him."
Ferriz says that backing is critical for the next mayor of Mexico's most dangerous city.