When Mexico Negotiates with Drug Lords

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Roberto Orduña Cruz, on the left, is the former police chief of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s deadliest city, notably for women. Of the 6,000 people who have been killed in the past year due to the country’s escalating drug violence — where drug cartels battle each other for turf and silence rivals, cops, journalists and innocent civilians — a third has taken place in Ciudad Juarez.

Police have long been targeted. Some would say it’s part of the job, a very difficult one. But it appears they are now holding up a white flag.

Cruz stepped down this weekend after a cop and prison guard were killed. Criminal gangs had threatened to kill at least one police officer every two days until he quit. At least four other officers had already been murdered.

The resignation comes after Ciudad Juarez’s mayor insisted that they would not give in to the gangs’ demands. He now says they could not successfully protect their police force.

This move is very troubling: it is one of the first major times that the drug cartels have exerted control over the government of a major city — and probably not the last. Juarez’s police say they will replace Cruz in a few weeks, but for how long will that recruit last?

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