Tijuana saw its previous record murder rate, set in 2008, toppled in 2016.
The State of Baja California’s Attorney General reported 910 homicides within Tijuana’s city boundaries, surpassing 2008’s 844 reported murder cases, and easily going over 2015’s 652 murder cases.
December saw the more murders than any other month in 2016, with 112 in total. This October, Tijuana recorded its 653rd murder, officially marking 2016 as a deadlier year for the city than 2015.
The cause for the uptick in last year’s murder rate, 46 per 100,000 people, is attributed to many factors, most notably a power struggle between the upcoming Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the city’s trafficking routes.
These events come at a time in which Tijuana is living through a renaissance brought on by a thriving culinary scene, a boom in craft brewing, reclaiming of public spaces, and through an uptick in the manufacturing industry.
Last week, the New York Times named Tijuana in its top 10 cities to visit in 2017, citing the city’s dining culture, which has been in a constant rise since 2010, as a major attraction.
But despite the distinction, local authorities worry that the constant negative headlines might mitigate the city’s newfound prestige.
According to David Shirk of USD’s Justice in Mexico initiative, leaders need to make a change from focusing on the drug war to improving the economy.
“The key challenge for Tijuana’s authorities and city leaders is that they’ve spent a great deal of effort in trying to establish Tijuana as a safe and vibrant city,” said Shirk in an interview with KPBS. “It’s very disheartening to see those efforts sullied by a resurgence of this violence.”