US consulate staffers in Tijuana have been urged to “seek shelter on the spot” as violence escalates in border towns
The Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito and Ensenada have been hit by gang violence that has seen vehicles set on fire and roads blocked.
The US Consulate in Tijuana instructed his employees because of the violence around midnight “seek shelter until further notice”.
It was the third time this week that Mexican cities have seen widespread arson and shootings by drug cartels. The gangs appear to target businesses, vehicles, and innocent bystanders in response to disputes or attempts to capture gang members.
Tijuana officials said vehicles were burned at about 10 locations in the city, and Mayor Montserrat Caballero blamed disputes between drug gangs.
Caballero publicly appealed to “organized crime,” the term used for drug cartels in Mexico, to stop the growing trend of targeting innocent civilians.
“Today we are telling the organized crime groups that are perpetrating these crimes that Tijuana will stay open and take care of its citizens, and we are also asking them to settle their debts with those who have not paid their debts. not with families and hard-working citizens,” Caballero said.
The extent of the violence was still unclear on Saturday. Late Friday, the US Consulate General in Tijuana said in a statement that he is “aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks, and heavy police activity in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada, and Tecate”.
The mayor’s comment to stay open was an apparent reference to the border city of Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, Texas, where some classes and public events were canceled after similar acts of violence on Thursday.
Alleged gang members went to a shoot-out in Ciudad Juarez, killed nine people, including four employees of a radio station, after a fight between rival gangs at a local jail killed two inmates.
On Tuesday, Drug cartel gunmen burned vehicles and shops in the western states of Jalisco and Guanajuato in response to an attempt to arrest a senior cartel leader from the Jalisco Cartel, which the Justice Department considers “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world”.
The leader of the cartel, Nemesio Oseguera, “El Mencho,‘ is among the most wanted by Mexican and US authorities. There was no indication that Oseguera was present during Tuesday’s clash.
The Tijuana area, bordering Southern California, is a lucrative drug trafficking corridor long dominated by the Arellano-Felix cartel but has now become a battlefield between various gangs, including the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels.
Referring to the violence in Ciudad Juárez on Thursday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said: “They attacked the innocent civilian population as a kind of revenge. It wasn’t just a clash between two groups, it got to the point where they started shooting civilians, innocent people. That is the most unfortunate thing in this matter.”
Four MegaRadio employees who were broadcasting a live promotional event outside a pizza shop in Ciudad Juarez were killed in the shooting.
Such indiscriminate violence is not without precedent in Mexico.
In June last year, a rival faction of the Gulf cartel invaded the border town of Reynosa and killed 14 people whom the governor described as “innocent citizens”. The military responded and killed four suspected gunmen.
And cartels in Mexico often hijack vehicles and burn them to distract police or prevent them from chasing gunmen.