The cartel-related drug violence in Tijuana continues to rage into 2019 with 18 killed in as many hours this past Monday and Tuesday, leaving at least 68 dead in the new year.
Tijuana set a new record for homicides in a single year in 2018 with 2,508 thanks to an alarming number of cartel-related murders–most tied to the street-level distribution of drugs. This violence continues despite numerous measures taken by Mexico City to intervene, including military surges and use of additional federal and state police personnel.
The 18-hour span began on Monday morning at 6:54 am in colonia Hacienda Santa María, where a male murder victim was left in the roadway under a blue tarp. The last victim during the period was recorded at 1:22 am Tuesday when municipal police discovered a male victim inside the trunk of a Honda in colonia Ejido Maclovio Rojas.
On Sunday, law enforcement and officials held a double funeral for two municipal police officers who were gunned down Thursday while eating at a Chinese restaurant in colonia Sánchez Taboada, which is known as one of the most violent sections of Tijuana. There is a high concentration of street-level dealers moving methamphetamine for the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) in the area. Officer Fidencio Figueroa Rodríguez died in hospital the night he was shot, and the wounded officer, Omar Araujo, died of his wounds Saturday. A key cartel operative wanted by authorities for his alleged role in a conspiracy to traffic huge quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana to various cities in the United States was gunned down with his wife in Tijuana Saturday. The fugitive was a member of the CJNG and supposedly involved in the murder of the two Tijuana police officers.
During funeral services, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum Buenrostro addressed those in attendance and instructed his officers to not be afraid of using their firearms when faced with the “degenerates.” During the early days of the arrival of the migrant caravan in Tijuana, Mayor Gastélum Buenrostro wore a red “Make Tijuana Great Again” baseball cap– a nod to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan and iconic headgear.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)