Ciudad Juarez – Police officers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's murder capital, are being trained by police from San Diego, California, to protect themselves against attacks by drug traffickers, a police spokesman said.
The training program was organized in the wake of several deadly attacks on officers in Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
The first phase of the training course is aimed at mid-level command officers, as well as municipal police and transit department area commanders, Ciudad Juarez police department spokesman Adrian Sanchez said.
Other officers will receive training later on, Sanchez said.
Mexican officers are being trained in tactics to employ in the event of an armed attack or an ambush, officials said.
A total of 45 Ciudad Juarez municipal police department officers have been murdered since the start of 2010.
Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
The murder rate took off in the gritty border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when 310 people were killed, then it more than tripled to 1,607 in 2008, according to Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office figures, with the number of killings climbing to 2,754 in 2009.
More than 3,100 people were murdered in the border city last year, making 2010 the worst year since a war between rival drug gangs sent the homicide rate skyrocketing in 2008.
The killing has not slowed this year, with more than 1,000 people murdered in Juarez.
The violence is blamed on a war for control of the border city being waged by the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels with backing from hitmen from local street gangs.
At least 14,000 "armed criminals" are in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua city, the state capital, working for the drug cartels that are fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States, Chihuahua Attorney General Carlos Manuel Salas said last month.
About 5,500 of the armed criminals operating in Ciudad Juarez belong to Los Aztecas, a gang that works as the armed wing of the Juarez cartel, while the rest work for the Sinaloa cartel, Salas said.
The violence has not subsided in Ciudad Juarez despite the deployment of nearly 10,000 soldiers and Federal Police officers in the border city.