Mexico's Drug Wars Fuel Northern Flight

Luis Aril Anzures, 29, who left Juarez, Mexico and now has a successful restaurant in El Paso, Texas.
Luis Aril Anzures is 29, and a successful restaurateur in El Paso, Texas.

But 11 months ago he lived across the border in Juarez, Mexico - one of the most dangerous cities on earth, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker. One day driving home, three cars surrounded him.

"People came out of the cars with AK-47s, pointing at me, told me to get out of the car, made me kneel on the street," Anzures said. "I thought I was going to die."

At just that moment soldiers drove up and saved him. That night, Luis and his family fled to El Paso, one of the safest cities in the U.S. - just 13 murders last year. They now have a thriving new restaurant and a safe new life.

"We love it here," Anzures said.

He's part of a growing number of people fleeing north to safety across the Rio Grande.

The port is one of the busiest on the border, 23 million crossings back and forth a year. But in the last two years, as many as 80,000 people from Juarez have crossed into El Paso -- and not gone back.

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Now one of every 15 El Paso residents is believed to be a recent transplant from Juarez; the upper middle class with visas, green cards or dual citizenships.

And this is what they're fleeing: Americans Leslie Enriquez and Arthur Redelfs, killed in a Juarez drive-by shooting 11 days ago, are two of 600 drug gang killings so far this year - almost 2,600 last year. Gangsters are killing to control this lucrative drug smuggling route to the United States.

Reportedly even the mayor of Juarez keeps a residence in Texas. He declined to discuss it for safety reasons.

"Are we talking about a failed city?" asked University of Texas, El Paso professor Tony Payan. "Absolutely!"

Payan is writing a book on Juarez.

"The young people, the talented people, the engineers, the nurses, the doctors are simply leaving the city," Payan said.

It is bringing an economic boost to El Paso. Real estate agent Dolores Guevara says almost one-third of her house hunters, about three a week, are from Juarez.

"They have a sense of urgency when they're looking for a home, whether they want to buy or lease," Guevara said.

Anzures has a new lease on life.

"We're very close cities, I mean a river splits us apart, but it seems like we're different worlds," Anzures said. "I'm not going back. Never."

The last time so many affluent Mexicans fled the country was during the Mexican revolution 100 years ago.