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Tijuana gets help from federal cops

Surge in violence warrants presidential dispatch of 400 officers

Gendarmería Nacional
  • Gendarmería Nacional

Members of a newly created and specially trained federal police force began arriving in Tijuana last week to help local officers combat a growing wave of violent crime.

According to press reports, about 100 members of the Gendarmería Nacional arrived in Tijuana on Thursday, September 4, the second contingent to be dispatched to the city; on September 1, 300 members of the elite federal police force arrived.

The Gendarmería Nacional, a 5000-officer division of the federal police, was approved by the Mexican congress in 2013 and officially activated by president Enrique Peña Nieto on August 25. Its function is to assist hard-pressed local police in combating crime in particularly lawless areas or locations considered to be of strategic importance, such as airports, international borders, and harbors.

Baja California was one of five states to which members of the Gendarmería Nacional were sent last week. The other states were Chiapas, Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Tamaulipas.

The arrival of federal police coincides with an increasing level of violence on the streets of Tijuana, which, in the past two weeks, has claimed the life of a municipal policeman and a state police investigator.

According to the daily newspaper El Sol de Tijuana, there have been more than 350 murders in the city since January 1.

On September 4, Alejandro Lares Valladares, Tijuana's head of public safety, announced that municipal officers will be assisted by the Mexican military in an effort to bring violent crime under control.

Elements of the Gendarmería Nacional are expected to be of particular value in the poorly policed far eastern neighborhoods of the city, according to press reports.

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Just when you think it is safe to get back in the water, or in this case, start making trans-border visits to TJ again, the truth is revealed. TJ is still a violent and dangerous city, not just some exotic locale a short drive away.

So El Presidente has sent in 400 of this new, elite police force that was recently formed. One might wonder if it got any training in how to be cops when it got its snazzy uniforms and berets. They look great in a military-style formation. But can they be effective street cops on the very mean streets of TJ? More important, do they have the skills and resources to solve homicide cases? Finally, is there any assurance they're not just as corrupt as those they replace?

My advice to anyone who has no ties to the northern Baja region is to stay away, and permanently, unless you really, really have to go there. And then if you must cross the border, keep your visits short, watch everything, and don't breathe easy until you're back on the US side.

Seems to me Mexico wants to be more like its northern neighbor, the U.S., and begin the process of militarizing their police. That way, they can beat, stun, gas, and occasionally shoot civilians with little or no concern for legalities. And, they get to buy all sorts of lethal tools from us! Now that has to be a win-win situation. Oh yea-- and they are going to knock out those nasty drug cartels and make TJ safe for tourists again. Yea, right.

Java, I didn't want to mention the militarization that those uniforms and organization imply, to keep my comment short. But they're doing something very similar to what the US has done with some of its enforcement agencies, notably the FBI and BATFE, putting them in battle dress with automatic rifles, riding in armored vehicles, etc. Of course, since 9/11, the locals have been getting more militaristic too, paid for by the feds. One good sign came recently, when the feds were squaring off with that rancher in Nevada, Bundy, and it looked as if his militia buddies and the feds might get into a shooting battle. The feds backed off and left the area. There is some reason for optimism.

As to Mexico, it is debatable if TJ was ever really "safe" for tourists. If you went there for vice, danger always lurked just around the corner. Even innocent shoppers were robbed or otherwise shaken down. Today, an "innocent" visit could cost you your life.

I am an American who lives in one of the roughest barrios in eastern Tijuana. Been here for almost ten years now. The turf war presently occurring in TJ is taking place between small street gangs who pledge their allegiance to whatever cartel supplies them. This is a direct result of the weakening of the OG cartels around here. I lived through a very similar situation while growing up in East LA. As a street gang member we fought for control of various plazas until the Mexican Mafia intervened and squashed the violence because it was bad for business. The same thing will happen here. The one major difference is civilian casualties. It is much rarer in Tijuana for an innocent to be caught in gang crossfire than in East LA back in the day. That is because local residents here won't tolerate it. PS: I'm building a tiny café in this land you mock and ridicule. Despite your ethnocentric gibberish you are cordially invited to my grand opening. Peace on Earth.

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