U.S. workers in Tijuana urged to “shelter in place”

Gang violence erupted in the Mexican border towns of Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, and Ensenada, resulting in car fires and traffic blockades.

Because of the violence, the US Consulate in Tijuana told its workers to “shelter in place until further notice” at midnight.

It was the third time this week that drug traffickers set fires and shot people in Mexican cities. In reaction to arguments or efforts to apprehend gang members, the gangs seem to be targeting shops, automobiles, and innocent bystanders.

A view of charred automobiles in Tijuana after they were set on fire by unidentified attackers.
On August 12, 2022, members of the security forces stand alongside a charred vehicle that was set on fire by unidentified persons in Tijuana, Mexico.
Tijuana authorities reported automobiles were destroyed at roughly ten locations across the city, and Mayor Montserrat Caballero blamed it on drug gang feuds.

Caballero made a public plea to “organized crime,” the word used in Mexico for drug gangs, to cease killing innocent individuals.

“Today, we are telling the organized criminal organizations that Tijuana will stay open and care for its residents, and we also urge them to resolve their debts with those who did not pay what they owed, not with families and hardworking individuals,” Caballero added.

Saturday, the scope of the violence remained unknown. The US Consulate General in Tijuana issued a statement late Friday saying it was “aware of reports of several car fires, roadblocks, and substantial police action in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada, and Tecate.”

The mayor’s statement about staying open was an obvious allusion to Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, where several schools and public activities were canceled following similar violence on Thursday.

After a confrontation between rival gangs at a nearby jail left two prisoners dead, alleged gang members embarked on a shooting rampage in Ciudad Juarez, murdering nine individuals, including four radio station personnel.

Drug cartel gunmen set fire to vehicles and businesses in the western states of Jalisco and Guanajuato on Tuesday in response to an attempt to apprehend a high-ranking cartel leader of the Jalisco cartel, which the Department of Justice considers to be “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.”

The cartel’s boss, Nemesio Oseguera, alias “El Mencho,” is wanted by Mexican and US police. There was no sign that Oseguera was there for the fight on Tuesday.

The territory surrounding Tijuana, which borders southern California, was long controlled by the Arellano Felix cartel but has since become a battleground for several gangs, notably the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador remarked regarding the Ciudad Juarez violence on Thursday: “As a kind of retaliation, they assaulted the civilian, innocent people. It wasn’t simply a conflict between two gangs; it became so bad that they started shooting bystanders, innocent people. That is the most regrettable aspect of this situation.”

The bullets murdered four MegaRadio staffers who were broadcasting a live promotional event outside a pizza shop in Ciudad Juarez.

Such indiscriminate violence is not uncommon in Mexico.

A rival section of the Gulf cartel attacked the border city of Reynosa in June of last year and massacred 14 individuals whom the governor classified as “innocent residents.” The military retaliated by killing four alleged gunmen.

In Mexico, drug gangs routinely steal and destroy automobiles in order to confuse authorities or prevent them from chasing gunmen.

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