TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexico’s famously seedy border city of Tijuana is enjoying a lull in drug murders as the country’s most powerful cartel gains the upper hand over its rivals.
While other parts of Mexico are hit by an increase in drugs violence, the beheadings and massacres familiar a few years ago are now rare in Tijuana, a key battleground on one of the most lucrative drug smuggling corridors to the United States.
Nightclubs and restaurants that shut down during a peak in violence in 2008 have cautiously begun to reopen their doors over the last year and officials say investment is picking up.
Long one of Mexico’s most vibrant border cities, lying just across from San Diego, Tijuana is home not just to sleazy bars and brothels but also to a cutting edge electronic music scene and internationally renowned contemporary artists.
Much of that changed, however, when battles between rival drug gangs sparked daytime shootouts and many brutal murders.
Residents remember how one day more than a dozen corpses were dumped opposite a school. Another day brought the capture of the “stew maker,” who dissolved hundreds of bodies in acid to hide evidence of murders committed by his gang.
“I’m still worried about the violence, but it’s nothing like as horrible it was,” said the elderly owner of an elegant Japanese cafe on a lively strip of gourmet restaurants.