CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Rampaging organized crime syndicates thumbed their noses at reinforced security measures in northern Mexico, killing 20 people overnight, authorities said Thursday.
Six of the killings in Chihuahua state were committed in Ciudad Juarez, the city across the border from El Paso, Texas that has become Mexico's murder capital, with more than 1,650 drug-related killings here in 2008, police said.
Members of Mexico's national security council held a summit Wednesday in Ciudad Juarez where they announced a "visible" reinforcement of security operations in the city which already includes 2,500 soldiers and police.
Interior Minister Fernando Gomez Mont vowed a major crackdown on the out-of-control violence Wednesday, even as an unexploded home-made bomb forced the evacuation of the airport and a bomb threat cleared the city courthouse.
"We are not going to surrender to them a single centimeter" of the city "and we're going to kick them out of Juarez," Gomez Mont said.
Within hours, police had found several corpses, including those of four men shot dead in a village in mountainous Parral municipality.
Most of the violence is attributed to a turf war between the Ciudad Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels.
The cartels want to control the city because it is a major shipping point into the United States.
Aside from the current review of its military deployment in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico is fine-tuning a joint police operation with the United States.
The latest violence came as US authorities announced the arrests of 750 people over a 21-month anti-drug sweep known as Operation Xcellerator, which netted 52 members of the Sinaloa cartel.
More than 5,300 drug-related murders were recorded in 2008 throughout Mexico, despite deployment of about 36,000 soldiers to try and halt the violence.
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