TIJUANA, Mexico – The Mexican government is stepping up its fight against drug cartels in Tijuana, sending 860 more soldiers to the border city where violence has been rising in recent months.
Soldiers will work with local police and other law enforcement to man checkpoints and set up anonymous complaint centers, designed to allow residents to report crimes without fear of retaliation, the Defense Secretary's office said in a press release Saturday.
Nearly 200 people have been killed in the city just south of San Diego, California, since Dec. 1.
Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, bordering El Paso, Texas, have been plagued with drug violence as rival gangs battle for control of valuable trafficking corridors.
Last week's arrest of Teodoro "El Teo" Simental, Tijuana's notoriously savage cartel boss, has raised concerns about retaliation and other attacks as cartels try to fill the leadership void.
The soldiers were ordered by President Felipe Calderon, the press release said.
The deployment follows an announcement Friday that 2,000 federal police are being sent to Ciudad Juarez to lead the fight against drug traffickers there.
Those officers will coordinate the efforts of local police and 6,000 soldiers already charged with maintaining security.
More than 15,000 people have been killed since Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels three years ago, including more than 2,500 people in Ciudad Juarez last year alone.