Drug lords go on killing spree to hunt down corrupt officers who stole shipment in Mexico’s Tijuana

by Andrew Wright
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Cartel Retribution

In the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, a recent wave of violence has unfolded in a manner reminiscent of a dramatic television plot. Drug lords, driven by anger, have embarked on a relentless pursuit of corrupt police officers who allegedly stole a significant drug shipment. This turbulent episode has claimed the lives of not only two officers suspected of the theft but also at least three additional police personnel, hinting at a broader retribution initiated by the cartel involved.

Tijuana, a city plagued by high crime rates, holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of homicides in Mexico. With a population exceeding 2.1 million, this border city has consistently witnessed around 2,000 murders annually for several years, a stark contrast to cities of similar size like Houston, Texas, which recorded 435 homicides in 2022.

The saga began in mid-November when a group of local and state police officers in Tijuana allegedly conspired to pilfer a substantial drug cache from a warehouse controlled by traffickers. Surveillance footage captured their pickup truck leaving the scene, loaded with plastic-wrapped bundles of cocaine.

State Prosecutor Maria Elena Andrade confirmed that three state detectives and a corresponding number of Tijuana municipal police officers were under investigation in connection with the theft. Former Tijuana police chief, Alberto Capella, indicated that the seized drugs likely belonged to the Sinaloa cartel, specifically the faction led by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, one of the city’s most influential criminal organizations. Remarkably, it appears that the cartel swiftly identified the culprits.

The retaliation began on November 18 when gunmen attacked the federal prosecutors’ office, riddling the building with at least 30 bullets. Within an hour, one of the municipal police officers allegedly involved in the heist was gunned down on a Tijuana street. On November 24, the state prosecutors’ office faced a barrage of gunfire, fortunately without injuries.

Tragically, on November 27, a state detective implicated in the theft met a grim fate while refueling his car at a Tijuana gas station. It appeared that he anticipated the attack and managed to start his vehicle, advancing a few feet before succumbing to gunfire. The attackers fled on a motorcycle.

An anonymous employee of the state prosecutors’ office confirmed that two of the officers implicated in the scandal had been publicly executed, indicating a possible gangland revenge motive. The second officer declined an offer to enter the state witness protection program in exchange for testimony.

Moreover, Alberto Capella, the former police chief, disclosed that at least three more police officers have been killed since the theft, suggesting a broader and indiscriminate retaliation campaign by the cartel.

Tijuana has a history of violence and corruption, exacerbated by turf battles among rival cartels and criminal groups, including the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels. This environment of pervasive violence has placed all residents, including journalists and entertainers, at risk. In January 2022, two journalists fell victim to separate fatal attacks within a week.

In response to the escalating violence, the Tijuana city council voted to ban performances of “narco corridos,” a genre of music that glorifies drug traffickers. Mayor Montserrat Caballero, who had previously faced threats, warned performers of these ballads of substantial fines.

The relentless violence in Tijuana extends its reach to all residents, from government officials to tourists and immigrants seeking to reach the United States. The city grapples with a complex and enduring crisis, leaving its citizens on edge and its future uncertain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cartel Retribution

What triggered the recent violence in Tijuana, Mexico?

A surge of violence in Tijuana was triggered by corrupt police officers allegedly stealing a significant drug shipment from a cartel-operated warehouse in mid-November.

How has the cartel responded to the alleged theft?

The cartel responded with a brutal retaliation, targeting not only the officers suspected of the theft but also other police personnel. Gunmen attacked government offices and executed officers in apparent acts of retribution.

Which cartel is believed to be involved in this incident?

The drugs in question are thought to belong to the Sinaloa cartel, specifically the faction led by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, one of Tijuana’s most powerful criminal organizations.

What is the current state of violence in Tijuana?

Tijuana has been plagued by violence, with consistently high homicide rates. It holds the dubious distinction of having the most homicides of any city in Mexico, with around 2,000 murders annually.

How are residents of Tijuana affected by this violence?

The pervasive violence in Tijuana affects all residents, including journalists, entertainers, and civilians. The city’s ongoing crisis poses a significant threat to its population and future stability.

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