Using an ongoing land conflict in Ciudad Juárez as a case study, I seek to show how maquiladora decision makers stabilize a regional development model even at times of extreme social and economic crisis. I argue that the current killings associated with drug trafficking play an ambivalent role in the reproduction of order in Juárez. At first sight, the violence is represented as a threat, unmasking as it does a regional development model as failure. Decision makers accordingly respond by doing everything possible to distance the maquiladora industry from the violence. On the one hand, this is being done by familiar means, not unlike in previous moments of crises. But on the other hand the events around Lomas del Poleo additionally assume a new quality, as maquiladorization goes hand in hand with an explicit strategy of spatial distanciation, integrating places and people that have hitherto been linked only marginally to the industry. And it is here that the narco-related violence plays different roles: as a convenient veil that allows what might be termed ‘ordinary’ assertions of brute force to be used under the cover of extraordinary, excessive, violence; and as a welcome excuse in moments of emergency that legitimize violent measures for the sake of a greater good.