A Plaza Dvided
"A Deal of corporate vision"
"A Deal of corporate vision"
Stories containing an in depth look at organized crime in Tijuana, are seldom without a quote from Victor Clark Alfaro, anthropologist and director of the Bi national Center for Human Rights. Alfaro, is considered an expert in cross border crime and violence, as it relates to cartel activity in Tijuana and San Diego, California. For many years his area of expertise was the Arellano Felix cartel, (CAF), whom were the exclusive owners of the Tijuana plaza, since their arrival in the mid 1980's. The 25 year sentence handed down to the Arellano Felix patriarch, Benjamen Arellano last week in San Diego, was symbolic of the end of an era, as well as the beginning of a new one.
In an interview with AFN Tijuana, Alfaro discusses this new era, and what it means for Tijuana, past, present, and future. Alfaro contends that the plaza is now shared, by two groups, who have come to an (narco) 'enterprise agreement', to work in the city, without competition, or violence from on another. According to Alfaro, the Sinaloa cartel started making it's way into the city, about five years ago, roughly 2007. This makes sense, considering Javier Francisco Arellano, and his lieutenants, were arrested in international waters, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. After this, the reins were passed to Fernando Sanchez Arellano, which caused a rift in the cartel, which wouldn't fully be recognized until 2008, Tijuana's bloodiest year. In the midst of this, the Sinaloa cartel began infiltrating the city, by purchasing real estate, and relationships with the authorities.
Alfaro discusses that the pact reached by Fernando Sanchez Arellano, and the Sinaloa cartel, is to share the square, and work in accordance, or without interference, to one another. Small groups, consolidated under Sanchez Arellano, or Sinaloa, are now the preferred way to operate, as opposed to the heavy top down hierarchy of earlier years. The pact, or agreement, must include members of the authorities and politicans of all levels, in the city. Alfaro does not exclude branches of the Mexican military from this analysis, ""I do not have doubt that where there is illegal activity it is because there has to be a joint network of corruption with officials in the city"
The Sinaloa and CAF cells are working in agreement, a relationship of business and convenience, to avoid bloodshed, and increase profits for all. But, Tijuana is not an 'open plaza', La Familia Michoancan, cells have been detected and stopped, and further investigation indicated they were paying taxes to operate in the city. Los Zetas, have not been detected in the city, but Alfaro indicates, their presence would not be welcome, due to the conflict between the two.
The details of this agreement are not known, mostly experts, or those interested, can make educated guesses, and assumptions. Murders and kidnappings sometimes appear to paint a picture of impending conflict, a Sinaloa cell will be alleged to be fighting an Arellano cell, but then the calm will resume, the violence and blood washes away, and the uneasy tranquility will continue.
Alfaro is not optimistic about the future of this agreement, and is concerned that violence will again reign in the city. Violence, is now down, subdued even, but Alfaro cautions against too much comfort from those facts, stating that high impact violence is down, but in the residential, impoverished neighborhoods, the violence and murders continue. Though, they lack the gruesome 'flair', of other violence stricken areas of Mexico, and years previous in Tijuana.
"When you say that violence has declined, I agree but only in the residential area, there is an apparent calm, but I think we're sitting on a volcano because these groups have made arrangements for reasons of ambition or control found in other countries, (they) are very fragile agreements. For me at any time, the volcano can explode"
Sources AFN Tijuana (The translations for the quotes don't always translate right, so I paraphrased a little, regarding the quotes of Victor Clark.
The quote below the title, is also of Victor Clark.