Ciudad Juárez is dealing with a serious social situation stemming from the fact that at least 10,000 families have had relatives murdered in the past few years and the killings have gone unpunished, Mexican journalist Sandra Rodríguez Nieto said in an interview with Efe.

"When you do not know who killed your relative, your brother, your son, you do not trust the justice system, (you) completely lose trust in the state and that is the death of the rule of law," the journalist said by telephone.

The 38-year-old Rodríguez Nieto has just published "La fabrica del crimen" (The Crime Factory), a book that tries to provide "the keys to understanding why Ciudad Juárez became the most violent (city)" in Mexico and one of the most violent cities in the world.

Juárez, located in a desert area in northern Mexico, is about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) from the capital and is home to 1.4 million people.

The border city became the "headquarters of one of most powerful cartels," a criminal organization led by Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was known as the "Lord of the Skies" for his fleet of aircraft, until his death in 1997.

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"La fabrica del crimen" (Temas de Hoy, 2012) tells the story of Vicente León Chávez, who murdered his family at the age of 16 and tried to collect ransom with the help of two friends.

He later joined Artistas Asesinos, a gang that became the armed wing of the Sinaloa drug cartel in its war with the Juárez cartel and its allies, La Linea and Los Aztecas.

Rodríguez Nieto examines how street gangs were recruited by the cartels, as well as the police and institutional corruption that nullifies the effects of social programs, haphazard urbanization, poverty and unemployment in Ciudad Juárez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

Impunity is at the heart of the situation, with 7,000 killings committed from 2008 to 2010 and less than 200 cases opened "with some level of investigation" in those years, Rodríguez Nieto said.

"The impunity is above 97 percent between 2008 and 2010," Rodríguez Nieto said, adding that due to the failure to deal with the situation, a solution is "very far off."

"The truth is not being established, there is no punishment for murders, on the contrary, the message is being sent that there are increasingly more and everyone (continues to go) unpunished," the journalist said.

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The relatives of those who have died "are seeing that the state, let's call it the institutions, is not responding, it is denying them access to justice," Rodríguez Nieto said.

The federal government under President Felipe Calderón rolled out the "Todos Somos Juárez" community development program, but it has not done enough in many areas, such as fighting the money laundering that area businesses engage in, the journalist said.

The conditions in Juárez are not being duplicated in other parts of Mexico, with the exception of the failure of the administration of justice, which can be seen in other parts of the country, Rodríguez Nieto said.

The investigative reporter, who works for El Diario de Juárez, received Spain's 2010 El Mundo International Journalism Prize.

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