EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Police in Juarez have deployed a helicopter to patrol the city, given an alarming spike in criminal activity in the past few days attributed to drug cartels.

Chihuahua Gov. Maru Campos said the air surveillance is part of a new high-visibility strategy to discourage criminal gangs from acting with impunity and assist ground units in spotting or chasing suspects.

“There will be air and ground patrols. The three levels of government will strengthen their presence with more officers and more patrols in neighborhoods, particularly in high-crime areas,” Campos said on social media.

The red-colored aircraft bearing the state police logo could be seen flying over South Juarez neighborhoods on Monday and Tuesday.

This is the first time in five years that police in Juarez have resorted to air patrols. The trigger was last week’s string or intentional fires that destroyed five public transportation buses, four private vehicles, an abandoned police storefront and a convenience store.

Juarez firefighters examine damages left by arson at a convenience store. (Border Report photo)

But before and after Thursday’s fires, police have been summoned to an increasing number of presumably drug-related homicide scenes.

On Sunday, police found the dismembered bodies of two women strewn about the Juarez-Porvenir Highway. On Tuesday, another woman was killed and one more was left for dead on the streets of the Zaragoza neighborhood; the survivor has since died from gunshot wounds and injuries consistent with torture, police said.

Juarez has now recorded 65 murders in 18 days, with 11 females among the victims.

Police ground units stand by as a police helicopter flies over high-crime neighborhoods. (Border Report photo)

“We hope that this response from the state will help us guarantee the safety of our citizens,” Chihuahua state Secretary of Government Cesar Jauregui told reporters.