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Tijuana still on edge after Friday’s cartel attacks

Drug cartels terrorized Tijuana and other parts of Baja California Friday night by setting dozens of vehicles ablaze throughout the state. Tijuana residents were still on edge Monday morning. KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis has more.

Tijuana residents were still on edge Monday morning following the mayhem Friday, when drug cartels terrorized the city and other parts of Baja California by setting dozens of vehicles ablaze.

Graciela Ramirez owns a restaurant near Avenida Revolución. She closed early on Friday after seeing a car burned down as the sun set. She saw three more fires during her ride home.

“I was scared,” she said in an interview Monday. “I heard they were burning down businesses. I left not knowing if I’d ever see it again.”


Despite Friday night’s chaos, no one was badly hurt or killed, said Tijuana Mayor Monserrat Caballero during a Saturday morning news conference.

“The problem is serious but not grave,” Caballero said, adding that 3,000 troops and 2,000 police officers had been deployed throughout the city to keep the peace. “We will protect Tijuana.”

Nonetheless, Tijuana residents were shaken.

“They wanted to scare us, well they actually did scare us,” said a man named Martin who has lived in Tijuana for 20 years. “I stayed home and didn’t go out.”

Martin, who did not want his last name used, viewed Friday’s chaos as a message from the cartel to the government.


“They showed that they can shut down the city if the government doesn’t give them what they want,” he said.

On Friday night, several businesses and the city’s public transportation system shut down. Cruise lines scheduled to dock in Ensenada canceled. And several people with medical appointments also canceled their visits.

The attacks were part of a larger coordinated action by the New Generation Jalisco cartel. Officials said it may be in response to the arrest of a high-ranking member.

Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, TX., saw much more violence. Eleven people were killed there, including a minor and four adults who were shot at random.

As Monday morning wore on, Tijuana showed increased signs of normalcy.

Tijuana still on edge after Friday’s cartel attacks

The pedestrian border crossing was filled with thousands of people who had attended the Baja Beach Fest music festival. Some waited as much as four hours to cross the border.

Ramirez felt safe enough to reopen her restaurant. “There are more people out now, more people on the streets and cars on the road,” she said.

Several police vehicles drove around the block as she served a seafood-based soup.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.