Democrat Congressman: Drug Cartel Violence in U.S. Has Decreased; Only 29 People Murdered in San Diego in 2010

By Penny Starr | April 1, 2011 | 4:55 AM EDT

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)

( – Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that while violence caused by Mexican drug cartels has increased in Mexico, it has decreased on the United States side of the border, “despite dire predictions.”

“In recent years, violence in Mexico has reached an all-time high; however, despite dire predictions, statistics and concrete evidence show that the violence has not spilled over into the United States,” Thompson said at a House hearing on the escalating violence attributed to Mexican drug cartels.

He noted that many more murders took place in Tijuana, Mexico than across the border in San Diego, California.

“There were 472 murders in Tijuana, while only 29 occurred on the other side of the border in San Diego, California,” Thompson said. And while 2,700 people died in Ciudad Juarez in 2010, only 4 people were murdered in El Paso, Texas – just across the U.S. border from that Mexican city, he added.

Thompson quoted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano following her recent visit to ports of entry in El Paso.

“During that trip she stated that ‘security on the southern U.S. border is better now than it ever has been’ and that ‘violence from neighboring Mexico hasn’t spilled over in any serious way,’” Thompson said.

He also cited Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics that show violence along the U.S. southwest border with Mexico has dropped 14 percent in the last three years.

“These numbers show a clear distinction between political rhetoric and proven facts,” Thompson said.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). ( Starr)

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight, investigations and management subcommittee, which held the hearing, provided a different set of numbers.

McCaul said that since 2006, 35,000 people have been killed by drug cartel-related violence in Mexico.

Over the past year, McCaul said, the cartels have killed three people – two of them U.S. citizens – connected to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez; a gubernatorial candidate in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas; 12 sitting mayors; and one U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent.

In his opening statement at the hearing McCaul cited a Congressional Research Service report on Mexican drug cartel violence.

“The massacres of young people and migrants, the killing and disappearance of Mexican journalists, the use of torture, and the phenomena of car bombs have received wide media coverage and have led some analysts to question if the violence has been transformed into something new, beyond the typical violence that has characterized the trade,” the report states.

“For instance, some observers have raised the concern that the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations may be acting more like domestic terrorists.” reported in February that more civilians were killed in Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican city across the border from El Paso, Texas, than were killed in all of Afghanistan.

There were 3,111 civilians murdered in the city of Juarez in 2010 and 2,421 in the entire country of Afghanistan.

Also, as of November 2010, the number of cartel-related murders in Mexico’s drug war had surpassed 10,000 for that year at the point. In September and October, there had been an estimated 230 killings per week.