Last week, the kidnapping and shooting of a store owner and the stabbing of a 57-year-old man in Newark brought the homicide count to 59 this year in New Jersey’s largest city. The latter marked five killings in five days. The string of violent deaths started after more than two weeks without a deadly confrontation, authorities said. Four of the five killings happened in the city’s South Ward.

Officials said the killings are gang-related, and police want to crack down on the city’s drug trade to stop the violence. “The recent spate of murders in the city of Newark is not the result of random incidents, but targeted attacks and retaliation against members of rival drug gangs,” said Police Director Eugene Venable.

Earlier this year, the New Jersey State Police and local authorities announced an anti-violence partnership, including increased patrols in response to the spike in violence. Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced he would implement a new program in Newark’s highest crime areas. Called TIDE-TAG, the program would share intelligence with other law enforcement agencies to focus on street-level drug and gun crimes. TIDE is the Targeted Integrated Deployment Effort and TAG is the Targeted Anti-Gun initiative.

In the beginning of August, Paterson Mayor Joey Torres, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop announced a tri-city approach to confront the violence and said they would share services and coordinate community outreach efforts. However, these efforts seem to be ineffective in countering the recent spike in murders.

Last year, murders in Newark hit triple digits for the first time in seven years. The city’s homicide total for all of last year was 111, the most since 1990.