CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — The mayor of the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez told residents to prepare for a monthslong presence of army troops, but said the arrival of thousands of soldiers had already reduced killings by almost 90 percent.
The city government is issuing advice for citizens on how to get along with more than 5,000 soldiers who will be in Ciudad Juarez for months. Thousands of those troops arrived over the weekend, part of a promised government surge to deal with drug wars.
"The first thing you should do is to slow down, turn on your interior lights and roll down the windows," Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said Friday.
Reyes Ferriz said "we are working with the public to prepare them, so that they know who how to get through the army checkpoints rapidly and interfere with this law enforcement activity as little as possible." He said the government would get the message out through radio and TV ads.
While formal army patrols aren't set to begin until next week, Reyes Ferriz said the army's presence already has reduced killings.
"In February we had an average of 10 homicides per day, and since the army announcement and its presence in Ciudad Juarez, the homicide rate went down to around one, or a little more than one, on average, per day," he said.
Reyes Ferriz said he could not say exactly how long the soldiers were expected to stay, but said that "it's going to be months. We didn't know how many, but it will be months."
Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, has been one of the centers of bloody drug gang turf wars that killed 6,290 people across Mexico in 2008.
Reyes Ferriz said the deployment is raising questions but in general has been well-received.
City resident Lauro Pasillas summed up some of those feeling while waiting at Ciudad Jaurez stoplight.
"If they're really going to do something, then I'm for letting them patrol the entire city," Pasillas said.
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