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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attorney, Son Working on Police Corruption Murdered on Mexico Border

The Latin American Herald Tribune

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO -- Two attorneys - a father and his son - were murdered by gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, which is across the border from El Paso, Texas, prosecutors in Mexico's Chihuahua state said. Mario Escobedo Salazar, 59, and his son, Edgar Escobedo Anaya, 32, were working on several cases involving police officers accused of corruption. The attorneys were gunned down Tuesday at their office in downtown Juarez, with one of the bodies found outside the building and the other inside, the Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office said. Last year, more than 1,600 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez, making it, according to tallies published in the press, the most violent city in Mexico.

In 2008, Juarez lived through days when dozens of people were murdered in the span of a few hours and armed groups committed acts of violence in public areas that terrorized residents. The year ended with a total of 1,605 people murdered in the border city, including 71 federal, state and municipal police officers, as well as 85 bank robberies, an average of 10 cars stolen per day and more than 20 businesses burned, press tallies published on New Year's Eve said. The last few months of 2008 also saw citizens living in fear of telephone extortion rackets that spread rapidly and prompted anti-crime marches by grassroots groups in the city, which became infamous for the murders and disappearances of women. This year started with police finding the body in Ciudad Juarez's northern section of a woman who appeared to have been tortured.

The body of the victim, who was between 25 and 30, was found last Saturday in the Juarez Valley, on the outskirts of the city, where more than 400 women have been killed since 1993, with the majority of the cases going unsolved. On Monday, a man's bullet-riddled body was found in Juarez, the AG's office said. Police found the body in the Los Alcaldes neighborhood along with a message that said: "This is going to happen to those who seek a share in the name of La Linea," referring to a wing of the Juarez drug cartel. Three bullet casings were found at the crime scene, the AG's office said, adding that the victim had been shot three times in the head.

Last year, the government could not contain the wave of violence in Juarez, where army and federal police forces were bolstered in late March in an unsuccessful effort to battle criminal groups. December was the second-bloodiest month of the year, with 195 murders reported, surpassed only by August, when 228 people died. Armed groups linked to Mexico's drug cartels murdered around 2,700 people in 2007 and 1,500 in 2006, with the 2008 death toll soaring to 5,630, according to a tally by the Mexico City daily El Universal. The newspaper reported Monday that 39 people had already been murdered across Mexico in the first few days of 2009. The majority of the killings have occurred in the states of Chihuahua, Baja California and Sinaloa.

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