Here is an excerpt from Richard Marosi's article in the Los Angeles Times:
"Here in Mexicali, people fear the desert sun more than drug hit men. The city of 700,000 has a homicide rate comparable to that of Wichita, Kan., and one of the biggest police deployments is Operation Beat the Heat, in which officers haul blocks of ice to shantytown residents. There hasn't been a bank robbery in Mexicali in 18 months, or a reported kidnapping in a year. Mexicali is considered so safe that top law enforcement officials from Tijuana raise their families here, and are seen visiting restaurants and movie theaters without the phalanx of bodyguards that usually follows them everywhere else. But is Mexicali an oasis of tranquillity, or just a mirage?... Some U.S. authorities suspect that the fire-free zone in Mexicali comes at a cost: a cozy relationship between Mexican law enforcement and the country's most powerful organized crime group, the Sinaloa drug cartel, which is believed to have shifted trafficking through the city to avoid gang battles in other border areas." Link to Full Article
Analysis: This is a really great article, and I like how it presents both the U.S. and Mexican government points of view on why things aren't happening in Mexicali. Admittedly, I think it leads the reader in the direction that Mexicali is dirty and the few Mexican cops that are there are in with the Federation. But hey, that's probably true.
As for the Mexican government's claims that it's difficult for cartels to take hold in Mexicali, I just don't buy it. They are EVERYWHERE. Personally, I believe that the majority of quiet, conflict-free places in Mexico are that way because there's only ONE cartel running the show there. The violence shows up when two or more cartels are fighting over one smuggling corridor into the U.S. If the Sinaloa Federation is really in charge in Mexicali (which it likely is), then that makes sense. Other violence comes about when the military or LOTS of federales are sent in to wipe out the cartel presence. There are obviously very few cops or soldiers in Mexicali, which means that cartels can operate freely...and peacefully.