“El Choclo” for Borderland Beat
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) has made the northern border municipality of Tecate the base of its operations in Baja California, according to local security forces.
As has occurred in other parts of the country where the cartel has expanded its influence, violence has increased in Tecate, sandwiched between the municipalities of Tijuana and Mexicali and located across the border from San Diego County and Imperial County in California.
According to a report by the newspaper El Universal, homicides in Tecate increased 280% in the first three months of the year. Among the victims were a high-ranking municipal government official, an independent political candidate and an activist.
El Universal reported that the CJNG announced its presence in strategic points in Baja California in a recent video posted to social media.
It also said that intelligence departments of local security forces have warned that the cartel — an extremely violent criminal group which the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says is the primary drug trafficking organization in 24 of Mexico’s 32 states — is using the municipal seat of Tecate, a Magical Town 50 kilometers east of Tijuana, as its operational base.
|For unknown reasons, one thing the Jalisco New Generation Cartel did to announce its presence in Tecate was target firefighters.|
The CJNG is also believed to be responsible for recent attacks on rural fire stations in Tecate, forcing authorities to close all four. The criminal group also allegedly abducted an ambulance paramedic and forced him to treat the wounds of a hitman injured in a gunfight with a rival cartel.
A fire chief in the town of Tecate told El Universal that a young firefighter in the community of La Rumorosa was captured and tied up by cartel members who stole his car to make a getaway before dumping it and setting it on fire. In addition, a fire engine was recently riddled with bullets by gunmen, leading firefighters to walk off their jobs.
“Nobody could guarantee our security. How can I send young men to work like that?” the fire chief said. It is unclear why the presumed CJNG members have been directly targeting firefighters. One possibility is that they wanted to scare off all authorities in the areas where they are seeking to operate with impunity.
The recent increase in violence in Tecate has interrupted years of tranquility enjoyed by residents, El Universal said. The newspaper also reported that a group dedicated to searching for missing people has been created in the border municipality for the first time.
Madres Buscándote Tecate (Mothers Looking for You Tecate) found the remains of seven men and women in a single month on a track that runs along a local river, El Universal said.
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