City's drug-gang slayings to continue, local expert says
By Jose Luis Jiménez
October 11, 2008
TIJUANA – Until well-armed drug gangs become fearful of killing people in public, a local expert on organized crime does not see an imminent end to the violence that has gripped Tijuana.
Victor Clark Alfaro, a longtime Tijuana resident and observer of crime trends who teaches at San Diego State University, made the comments yesterday when the body count reached only three, a significant drop compared with the multiple daily homicides of the past two weeks.
A total of 91 people have been killed in Tijuana in 45 events tied to the drug-gang feud since Sept. 26, Baja California Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez said at a news conference last night. Among the victims was a Tijuana police officer who was on duty and carrying drugs when he was killed, Moreno said. The officer is considered to be the first death in the killing spree.
Yesterday, one man was shot to death just after midnight and the second about 5 a.m. in the city's Portico de San Antonio neighborhood, according to the Attorney General's Office. Authorities found near the bodies what has become the evidence that links the attacks to the drug feud: empty casings from automatic rifles.
About 10 a.m., the dismembered body of a man was found inside a drum near Tijuana's airport, along with a message to one of the leaders of the feuding drug gangs, according to information from the Attorney General's Office. The gray drum, found next to a dirt road near some athletic fields by the airport, contained the unidentified body of a man between the ages of 30 and 35.
The violence in Tijuana that started with bodies being dumped late at night has reached the level of public attacks, Clark noted. This means drug gangs believe they can move freely around the city and kill people in the streets without fear of getting caught by the police, Clark said.
And the expert doubts that the impending arrival of more federal police and military forces – which Baja California's governor announced this week – will do much to address the root cause of the problem: Tijuana's lucrative illicit drug trade. Gangs are willing to spill blood and don't care if innocent bystanders get in the way, said Clark, who's also director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana.
One of yesterday's victims was a newspaper vendor, and late Wednesday night two men believed to be innocent bystanders were slain in front of a taco stand. They were near a man who apparently was the target of the attack, in the city's El Florido neighborhood. That man also was killed.
“We are averaging eight deaths per day over the past two weeks,” Clark said. “We have not seen the full resources of the state and federal government used to stop the violence. We need investigations and intelligence to stop the attacks.”
Moreno also said authorities have confirmed that three blue barrels found outside a seafood restaurant Sept. 30 contained human remains.