TIJUANA — At least 20 police trucks were damaged in a Molotov cocktail attack at a Tijuana Mazda dealership early Tuesday morning.
A group of 37 new Ford F150 pickup trucks labeled with the Tijuana police logo were being stored at the dealership when five male suspects in a Chevy Tahoe arrived with assault weapons and tied down to the security guard, police said.
The incident took place about 12:30 a.m. at a Mazda dealership off a busy highway known as the Via Rapida, according to a police report of the incident. A security guard watching over the future patrol vehicles said five armed assailants in a Chevy Tahoe tied him up, threw him to the ground and ordered him to close his eyes. They then fled in an unknown direction, the report said
Tijuana Fire Department investigator Julio Martinez said in a preliminary review that the police cars were burned out with the use of a chemical agent, such as gasoline.
“It is obvious that this was done by a group of persons and that the idea wasn’t to hurt somebody,” Martinez said. “This is a fearless message to the authorities.”
Tijuana City Clerk Mario Martinez Castillo said that the damaged police cars were not property of the city yet. The vehicles were set to be purchased by the city, but they had not yet been acquired.
He also said that the patrol trucks were at the dealership to be equipped with turrets, sirens, strobes, and speakers.
Six trucks were classified as total losses and 15 more sustained broken glass and other damages.
Tijuana is just across the border from San Diego. Like other border communities, it has faced an upsurge in violence in recent years associated with drug cartels. The assault appears to be the latest in a series of attacks against the Tijuana Police Department, which has been a frequent target of criminal groups operating in the area.