TIJUANA – This city has new lead crime fighters.
The Baja California Attorney General’s Office fired the director of its Tijuana office on Monday night, citing an agency restructuring.
The departure of Assistant State Attorney Martha Imelda Almanza comes a week after the Tijuana municipal government replaced its top law enforcement officer with attorney Alberto Capella, who has taken over as municipal Secretary of Public Safety.
The State Attorney General’s Office in Tijuana will now be directed by Juan Carlos Flores Mendoza, who previously was the coordinator of State System for Alternative Justice in this city.
Flores Mendoza is the third director of that office in the four years of the current state administration. He takes over at a time when crimes under the state’s purview – including assault, robbery and rape -- are surging.
The state also investigates homicides, and the rate they are being committed in the city also is increasing.
Currently, Baja California ranks fourth in Mexico for criminal activity, according to a national poll conducted by Mexico’s agency for statistics and geography, known as Inegi.
The state registered 30,753 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants during 2010, according to Inegi. Baja California is ranks behind the states of Aguascaliente (36,000 crimes per 100,000 residents), Chihuahua (34,000 crimes) and Mexico City (32,000 crimes).
Gen. Alfonso Duarte, commander of the Baja California’s Second Military Region, noted during a recent public appearance that the most common crimes being reported were auto theft, which had gone up 300 per cent in 2011 compared to last year and home robberies.
But the number of high-profile crimes, such as homicides, has dropped this year compared to 2010, Duarte said.
State authorities logged 384 homicides through Oct. 4, about 200 less than the same period last year.
An estimated 80 per cent of the murders are linked to drug-dealing on the streets.
The Inegi study also showed the criminals act with relative impunity in Baja California, despite the significant federal and military presence.
Only 19 out of 100 assaults, extortion and auto thefts are reported to the authorities at the state level, the study showed.
In Tijuana, where half the state’s population lives, the number of people reporting a crime increased to 26 out of
The majority, however, considered filing an official report a waste of time or did not trust authorities, Inegi said.
The new director of the Tijuana office of the State Attorney General’s office is no stranger to the city. He was a state investigator in Tijuana, assigned to special affairs.
He takes over an office that’s had three directors in nearly four years, Salvador Ortiz, Martha Imelda Almanza and now Flores Mendoza.