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Homicide rate in Juarez falling

JUAREZ, Mexico, April 11 (UPI) -- The murder rate in Juarez has fallen in the first three months of 2011 and officials say a computer projection of 5,000 homicides for 2011 could be wrong.

The Chihuahua state attorney general's office said through the end of March there were 626 homicides in Juarez, which sits across the border from El Paso, Texas.

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The El Paso Times said Monday a computer model by a researcher at the Autonomous University of Juarez projected the annual homicide figures. If the downward trend continues, there would be 2,504 homicides in Juarez by the end of 2011.

"The statistics are at a very high, horrible level," said Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, a Juarez lawyer and the ombudsman for the Chihuahua State Human Rights Commission.

There were 183 homicides in March, the fewest monthly deaths since February 2010. There have been 45 homicides in April.

Most of the victims are connected in some way to the drug trade, officials said, but the victims increasingly include a cross section of society, including U.S. citizens.

Drug trafficking, cross-border violence and terrorism are among the topics being discussed at the University of Texas at El Paso Monday and Tuesday.

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Additionally, Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia Lardizabal is scheduled to discuss trade, the economy and other issues with Texas legislators Monday in Austin.

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