Violent Month in Tijuana - NBC 7 San Diego

Violent Month in Tijuana



    Violent Month in Tijuana
    NBC 7 San Diego

    A gun battle breaks out between police and cartel in the middle of a Tijuana street.

    It is a scene that played out over and over again back in 2010 with more than 800 homicides that year.
    But Baja California State police say the homicide rate now, is nearly half of that.

    "The people that get killed, they're related with the drug dealers it's not like innocent people are getting killed," said Tijuana resident Julio Barcelo.

    Still, police say so far there have been 35 homicides during the month of April alone.

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    For Tijuana residents, it's unnerving to know that it's still happening.

    "It's bad, it’s really something,” said Alejandro Mastache, who crosses the border into San Ysidro daily to work.

    But it's not something many residents always hear about.

    “You get more scared like watching the news than you do living down there,”said Barcelo.

    According to authorities all but one of this month's homicides are drug-related. Baja California State Police Commander Alfredo Arenas says that is not the case for the rest of Mexico.

    But in Tijuana, the days of street battles or the staging of public massacres are long gone.

    Arenas says now the cartel is creating alliances with their former competitors.

    “The cartels are fighting between them and they're executing rival cartels. So far it's a war between cartels. No innocent people have been killed,” Arenas told NBC 7 on Thursday.

    Although the cartel continue to quietly kill each other, Tijuana has no trouble attracting tourists.

    NBC 7 talked to one couple in town from Germany who were walking across the border into Tijuana.

    “We are going in the daytime so I think that it should be ok,” said tourist Tom Sobilo.

    While Tijuana is still trying to recover from a violent past, authorities say the recent homicides are no cause for alarm.

    "You just have to be precautious everywhere. You have to be precautious, maybe just a little bit more over there,” said Mastache.

    Arenas also tells NBC 7 the once-dominant Arrellano Felix Organization has been slowly dwindling in Tijuana.

    He says right now the remaining members of that cartel have joined the Sinaloa cartel.

    He admits the homicide rate in TJ is still high, but he says the collaboration of former cartel rivals proves that these criminal operations are not as powerful as they used to be.