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Border & Immigration

US Embassy issues 'security alert' for Tijuana and Rosarito

Violence between warring drug cartels prompted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to issue a security alert for travelers in Tijuana and Rosarito.

The alert says there is, “potential for confrontations between criminal organizations and Mexican security forces,” in the area.

There were 1,972 homicides in Tijuana in 2021. That is actually a decrease from 2019, when there were more than 2,200 killings, according to the Baja California’s State Attorney’s Office.

In response to the violence, Mexico’s federal government deployed the military to Baja California earlier this year.

Army General Saul Luna said the bloodshed is linked to three different cartels fighting for territory in the area.

“It’s the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel and remnants of the Arellano Felix Cartel,” Luna said. “They are all fighting over who controls the drug sales.”

Despite the violence, tourism has not taken a big hit, according to Carol Kramer of the Discover Baja Travel Club.

Kramer said the club has more than 10,000 members and 2021 was their busiest year.

MEXICAN ARMY tijuana
Matthew Bowler
Mexican Army deploying into Tijuana as part of a special mission to curb cartel violence, Tijuana, June 17, 2022.

The advisory may keep some people from traveling to Baja California. But Kramer added the majority of Discover Baja Travel Club members are “seasoned Baja travelers” who know which areas to avoid.

People traveling to Baja California should take the same precautionary measures they’d take while traveling anywhere else, Kramer said.

“You need to be careful about where you are. You should be alert. You shouldn’t drink excessively so you don’t know what is happening around you,” she said.

“Unlike here in this country where you are afraid to go to a parade or even send your child to school because of mass shootings, that isn’t happening in Baja. It’s the cartels going after each other.”
Carol Kramer, Discover Baja Travel Club

The U.S. Embassy’s security alert says, “a prominent cartel leader,” was arrested on July 2. That arrest might prompt more territorial disputes, which “can result in bystanders being injured or killed.”

Like Luna, Kramer said the violence isn’t random. It is usually connected to organized crime.

“Unlike here in this country where you are afraid to go to a parade or even send your child to school because of mass shootings, that isn’t happening in Baja,” she said. “It’s the cartels going after each other.”