Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Affluent Sonorans pack for AZ amid drug war

An increasing number of upper-middle class Sonorans are investing in Arizona real estate as they seek a safe haven from the violence of Mexico’s drug war. Gabriel Gastelum, owner of Nogales’ Century 21 franchise, said he’s seen more Sonoran customers of late, some of whom cite violence as the prime motivator for their move. And Century 21’s Aracely Stout said she’s sold homes to a number of wealthy and well-known Sonoran families who said they were fearful their kids would be harmed in Sonora. Stout recalled one client who made the move to Nogales, Ariz., after witnessing a gun battle just outside his Sonora home. “Can you imagine if your kids are asleep inside and there’s a gun battle just outside the window?” she asked. “He decided he had to do something.” According to local media tallies, Nogales, Sonora, has recorded 135 murders in 2010 as of July 13 – five more than the total from all of last year. And while the vast majority of the murders are believed to be a result of score-settling between rival gangs, bystanders have occasionally been caught in the crossfire. In addition, innocent civilians have been targeted by kidnappers and extortionists – and even phony crooks who try to take advantage of the climate of fear...more

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