So-called spillover violence has long been a concern of residents of U.S. communities along the Southwest border, yet spikes in violent crime along the Mexican side of the border rarely impact rates of violence in the United States. InSight Crime’s Steven Dudley exams the forces behind these statistics in Nuevo Laredo and Laredo.

Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, sister cities along the US-Mexico border, are almost the same size. They have very similar economic motors, cultural heritage, populations and socio-economic indicators. Yet, in 2012, Nuevo Laredo had at least 36 times the number of murders. Why?

It is a question that is pondered up and down this 1,951-mile border, especially after the explosions of violence in Tijuana and Juarez during the last decade, places that sit across from San Diego and El Paso respectively, two of the safest cities in the United States.

Like those cities, murder rates have traditionally been higher in Nuevo Laredo by a factor of three to five. And few places offer such similarities in what is essentially an isolated geographic space.

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