EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Police in Juarez, Mexico, early Monday responded to the scene of a double murder in the city’s south side. Officers found the bodies – with signs of torture and gunshot wounds to the head – abandoned on a street near La Cuesta neighborhood.

The find brought the number of homicides in the city this year above 300. That’s an average of 3.3 murders per day.

Mexico steps up patrols on Rio Grande

Police officials last month had expressed optimism that homicide rates in the border state of Chihuahua would go down with the transfer of more than 200 inmates they suspected of running gangs from their jail cells. That appears to not be the case, but Juarez Police Chief Cesar Omar Muñoz says some extraordinary events skewed the numbers and insists his city grows less violent by the day.

“We are working very hard. The (clandestine graves) we found, we don’t know how long those bodies had been in that place,” Muñoz said on Monday. “We have a strong presence on the streets. All law enforcement agencies, the army, the National Guard are meeting every week to coordinate” efforts.

Death, Denial, and a Region Under Siege, Parts 1-3

On March 6-7, the Chihuahua District Attorney’s Office announced the finding of six bodies in a clandestine grave in Juarez in a neighborhood where another eight cadavers had been pulled from the ground just last September.

That came just days after 214 convicted gang members were flown out of Juarez and Chihuahua City prisons for allegedly ordering the murders of rivals from behind bars.

Munoz said the city’s crime situation should not be measured only by the number of homicides. “We are working (to reduce) robberies, car thefts,” he said.

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Juarez Chamber of Commerce officials late last year told Border Report the city is safe for visitors and characterized nine out of 10 murders being reported at the time as “drug-related.”