Ciudad Juarez is right on the border between the United States and Mexico, and since it was founded in the 17th century it has been a coveted price for guerrilla fighters, catholic congregations, revolutionary armies, as well as drug traffickers and the modern federal armed forces. Although the number of drug cartel members is not known with precision, the government of President Calderon aims at deploying 7,000 troops in Ciudad Juarez as soon as it is possible. There are more Mexican troops in this city than British forces in Basra.
The Sinaloa cartel, whose operatives were recently targeted by Operation Xcellerator in the United States, is at the center of the problem in Ciudad Juarez. Indeed, this and other cartels have been fighting over this strategic city for months. The war among cartels has produced thousands of deaths, the resignation of police commanders and officers, as well as numerous kidnappings. The city is also infamous for the disappearance of thousands of women over the last few years. Now the problem is likely to spillover to the United States. Mexican officials must be losing their sleep over this (and over the fact that they have been arguing for months that Mexico was prepared to face the financial crisis and now the country’s economy is badly damaged, but that is another story) and hence the deployment of troops.
In theory, the arrival of the federal forces should reduce the violence in the city. However, the inhabitants of this border town now have to go through several checkpoints in order to move through the city and live under the “vigilance” of a force that is not a beacon of light when it comes to the protection of human rights (i.e. the Mexican armed forces). This means that Ciudad Juarez is in between a rock and a hard place. On one side are the relatively unreliable federal forces. On the other are the cartels. Cartels fight each other and still manage to contain the federal forces. In between are the inhabitants that must take cover from friendly and unfriendly fire.