AFP - A new spate of violence has pushed the homicide rate in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez to an unprecedented 1,701 murders, breaking the record set just a year earlier in 2008.
Officials reported 14 new violent deaths over the weekend in the town, which sits across the border from Texas, pushing the homicide rate past last year's record level of 1,653 murders.
In all, 22 people were killed on Saturday night and Sunday in the two Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua, which border the US states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
In Sonora state, a car was set ablaze after being riddled with bullets during a car chase, leaving five dead -- including two children aged five and two years old -- and a 17-year-old missing.
A 19-year-old girl injured in the incident said drugs had been hidden in the gas tank of the car, which was being used to transport drugs.
Since February, some 8,500 Mexican soldiers have been deployed in Ciudad Juarez, but they have failed to stop ongoing violence between members of the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels.
The two groups are fighting for control of the local market, but also the lucrative cocaine smuggling routes into the United States, according to local authorities.
In an effort to combat drug violence, the Mexican government has mobilized close to 50,000 soldiers across the country to assist local police forces.
President Felipe Calderon has made tackling the drug cartels, which have become increasingly powerful and bold in their actions, a key priority for his administration, but his efforts have so far failed to have a major effect on the gruesome cartel-related violence that has plagued the country.