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Tijuana Killings Disrupt Period Of Relative Calm

Baja California officials blame organized crime for the slayings. Some say it’s a sign the drug war is alive in the border city.

Aired 1/30/12 on KPBS News.

The murders of five people at a family gathering Saturday were a reminder that organized crime is still active in Tijuana despite a recent decrease in drug killings.

— The slayings of five males in Tijuana on Saturday has disrupted a long period of calm in the city, a reminder that despite a recent decrease in drug violence, cartel rivalries in Tijuana are still active.

Gunmen stormed a family gathering in a central Tijuana neighborhood Saturday night, took four men and a 13-year-old boy into the kitchen, and executed them, police said.

Authorities said one victim was the brother of Omar Cabrera Bengochea, a former Tijuana police officer recently arrested for having ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel. Police detained several suspects in nearby Rosarito Beach.

The shooting is notable because it comes after an extended period of relative calm in Tijuana. Drug related murders have been on a steep decline, and while there have been several recent murders involving drug traders, this was the first flare-up of violence in several months that appears linked to organized crime.

"There's a lot of drug activity, but not much violence," said Vicente Calderon, editor of, which covers crime trends in the city. "And this is proof that organized crime is still very active in Tijuana. But it's just that they are trying to keep a lower profile because when things get out of hand, the authorities put more pressure on them."

He said Saturday's murders appear to have been meant as a warning to the arrested police officer by members of a rival drug gang.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 31, 2012 at 9:04 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Florido,

1) you fail to mention the minor's ties to San Diego. He was a student at San Ysidro Middle, and apparently had been doing well and liked by his teachers.

2) The "colonia" or neighborhood of Tres de Octurbe, where this ocurred is NOT 'central" Tijuana. It is near the Rodriguez dam which is at the outskirts of town. Please rectify.

3) The words of Mayor Carlos Bustamantes, "not to exaggerate" and the rainstorm of criticism for such irresponsbile comments.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | January 31, 2012 at 10:40 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

It looks as if the "decapitation" approach for engaging the drug cartels and their affiliates hasn't worked. Leadership positions within those groups don't stay vacant for very long.

While mitigated, the "mafia' problem in Sicily and gang violence in our urban areas have never been eradicated (just 2 of many examples). Maybe these stories are here to stay and we should just learn to accept this type of cowardice.

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