Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Recent Tijuana Cartel Violence Part Of A Pattern That Goes Back Decades

"Mica/DrivingMSSQL" for Borderland Beat.

The San Diego-Tijuana border region was jolted just over a week ago, when cartel members launched a campaign of terror on the streets of Tijuana, with vehicles being set ablaze and gunmen blocking major thoroughfares.

Residents on both sides of the border were shocked by the brazen attacks, and normalcy didn’t return until days later. But, for those who study the cartels, the actions were part of an all-too-familiar pattern.

To comprehend what’s happening now, you need to understand the history of the Mexican cartels, said David Shirk, director of the Justice in Mexico program at the University of San Diego. It begins in the 1970s with the Guadalajara Cartel.

The Guadalajara Cartel had sole control of drug trafficking in Mexico until members killed a DEA agent in the 1980s, Shirk said. That’s when the U.S. pressured Mexican leaders to go after them.

“In the aftermath, the Guadalajara Cartel split into three different criminal organizations that controlled different territories in Mexico,” he said. “The Arellano-Felix family controlled the city of Tijuana.”

The Arellano-Felix family control lasted until the Sinaloa Cartel challenged them in the mid-to-late 2000s. That fight for Tijuana resulted in some of the deadliest years in the city’s history.

A new brutality

Now there is another battle. The recent violence is linked to a clash between the Sinaloa Cartel and a rival organization known as Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

“The latest escalation is not just a repeat of the mid-2000s, but in some ways even more dramatic because of the new factor that is Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is writing a book about organized crime in Mexico.

“They try to rule through brutality, by being more brutal than anyone else,” she said. “That’s their standard modus operandi: resorting to very dramatic, very brazen violence.”

That’s exactly the kind of public show of force that Tijuana experienced August 12. Gunmen cleared public buses and set them ablaze. Cartel henchmen set up roadblocks throughout Baja California and the government imposed a curfew.

Felbab-Brown has studied the difference between how each cartel operates. While both resort to violence, the Sinaloa Cartel is viewed as more professional.

Its leaders prefer to work behind the scenes. They try to buy off government officials to amass political influence and offer free food and social programs to poor communities. Even their extortion fees are relatively low compared to their rivals.

The Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion has a different approach. Its members use social media and public spectacles of violence to terrorize communities into submission.

“Between the choice of the violence of the Sinaloa Cartel and the violence of Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, life tends to be much more brutal, much more difficult under Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion’s rule,” Felbab-Brown said.

Failed efforts

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addressed last week’s violence during a pre-scheduled visit to Tijuana Friday.

The president downplayed recent violence and said the Mexican National Guard is taking care of the issue. There are currently more than 3,000 members of the National Guard patrolling the streets of Tijuana.

A number of experts say that strategy doesn’t work.

Every Mexican president since Felipe Calderon in 2006 has responded to cartel violence by sending the military. During that time, homicides in Mexico have increased significantly and the cartels have not slowed down.

“Unfortunately, what we have seen over the past 10 to 15 years is a lot of repetition of the same go-to strategies, which consists largely of military deployment,” said Stephanie Brewer, Director for Mexico at the Washington Office on Latin America, or WOLA.

Lopez Obrador seems to be doubling down on this failed strategy, Brewer said.

“Despite all of the evidence that shows us that this military deployment is not an effective strategy, it has remained at the centerpiece of the Mexican federal government’s response to crime and violence,” she added.

“Unfortunately, what we have seen over the past 10 to 15 years is a lot of repetition of the same go-to strategies, which consists largely of military deployment ... Despite all of the evidence that shows us that this military deployment is not an effective strategy, it has remained at the centerpiece of the Mexican federal government’s response to crime and violence."

Stephanie Brewer, director for Mexico at the Washington Office on Latin America

The fact that a cartel was able to bring Tijuana to a standstill by burning a few buses and blocking off roads makes the government look weak, experts said.

“In terms of what does this mean, this means that the state increasingly looks weaker in relation to criminal groups,” said Cecilia Farfan-Mendez, co-founder of the Mexico Violence Resource Project.

Farfan-Mendez said government officials didn’t help themselves by trying to downplay the cartel attacks.

“Another thing that happened in the aftermath of these events is that the government is saying that their strategy is working,” she said. “But everyone else is saying: 'How can you say that, have you not seen what is happening?’”

There is no way to know for sure whether the recent violence is a sign of things to come or if it was an outlier, the experts say. And that’s by design.

“As is often the case, what’s going on in this criminal underworld, in the shadows, is impossible for us to really know what’s going on,” Shirk said. “It’s like shadow puppetry. So you think you’re seeing something, you think you understand what’s going on but you have no way to confirm.”

Yet, a couple of things are clear. As long as rival groups fight for control of Tijuana, we should expect the violence to continue until one comes out on top. And even then, it won’t be a lasting peace.

“Presumably one of the criminal groups of a coalition could win,” Felbab-Brown said. “But we will perpetually be in a situation where any peace is really just a narco-peace. It’s a peace that is totally at the discretion of criminal groups. It is not because the state has developed effective policies.”

Source: kpbs


  1. What’s the name of the guy behind the podium? I seen him before in some of the other articles here on BB before. Kinda looks like George Lopez.

    1. 3:15 he's name is AMLO bebe! Precident of the greatest and safest country in the world😘

    2. 5:57 ahhhhhh I spotted a AMLO paid internet influencer, hope they are paying you good $. Sir has been saying AMLO is a cheapskate, only offering Tortas and Chepkas.

    3. At 916
      With all that bribe money he gets while in office, I am sure he is able to pay them.

  2. Love him or hate him, that right there is the G of Gee’s for now.

  3. Replies
    1. Taking a siesta

    2. He went to sleep in his palace at 7 pm
      And will be up again for his daily Gibberish conference.

  4. The Guadalajara Cartel never controlled all of the drug trafficking in Mexico. The Guadalajara Cartel didn't come into existence until after the death of Pedro Aviles who was most likely set up by Fonseca around 1978.
    The Gulf Cartel antedates the Guadalajara Cartel by decades. They were already a major marijuana smuggler when the Guadalajara Cartel came into existence and were already beginning to traffic cocaine.
    No one controlled the border in the 1980's. You had the Guadalajara Cartel in the west and the Gulf Cartel in the east. Drug smuggling in the 1980's was primarily marijuana and domestically produced heroin and opium smuggling and the early days of cocaine smuggling in Mexico. There were a variety of individual smugglers back then and small independent operators smuggling mostly marijuana and occasionally heroin. No one paid piso back then to smuggle drugs across the border.
    WOLA is an organization that is more interested in promoting their left wing agenda rather than getting their facts straight. The Mexican military is what has prevented Mexico from becoming unglued. The Mexican army has always been viewed as reliable until about 25 years ago when even some of the soldiers cooperated with traffickers and some soldiers even began to become involved in extortion, etc. True to form, the DEA vetted members of the Mexican navy and pressed on. Of course, a few marines sold out to the cartels, but by and large, the Mexican navy has been a reliable partner in fighting organized crime. I would never rely on WOLA for a "professional" opinion on the security situation in Mexico.
    The reporter for this TV station suggests that this type of violence goes back decades and doesn't even mention any incidents of this violence decades ago. Another story by a TV station poorly researched and produced.
    Getting to the issue of the violence. This type of violence may have occurred on occasion prior to 2006 when Calderon sent the troops into the streets but it has never been so widespread. Much of this appears to be the work of smaller actors in addition to the major players. This is a new phenonemon that we will likely see repeated in the near future.

    1. Hey DETROIT
      what part of Mexico are you or your family from?

    2. So what is the solution? Withdraw military and let the cartels have complete control? Get the US involved with an armed solution? Try to eliminate corruption in the military and make them hunt and destroy the cartels with US DEA info? or is there another solution?

    3. 6:42 don't give the true town, you never know if their are in posters trying to get valuable to on you or Sol, to do something bad later.

    4. 1:42 Detroit is from Africa,
      I feel like he used to be Mexico Watcher...

    5. 2:29:
      The solution is the people of Mexico electing a president who truly wants to confront the cartels. ELMO had the feds tone things down and tries to stop their human rights abuses. The human rights abuses continue, albeit on a smaller scale. However, homicides went from 22,000 per year in 2018 when ELMO was elected to 34,000 per year in 2020. Tens of thousands of additional Mexicans have been murdered thanks to ELMO's failed strategy. At the current pace, Mexico will suffer an additional 70,000 to 80,000 homicides during ELMO's 6 years in office.

    6. Presidents unleash GESTAPO STYLED MURDERERS...
      Rodrigo Duterte being the last example.
      The Bastille got taken and torn down by unarmed people with sticks and stones that started the French Revolution instigated by the british to avenge for the loss of the american colony because of French king help.
      Ben Franklin had a long sneaky tongue that helped in getting french women to influence the court, but the US never paid the loans and let the french monarchy go to the guillotine.

  5. Nice Job AMLO voters.

    You elected a moron that hates Mexico and embraces criminals.

    Way to go pendejos.


    1. Queso 9:21 I voted for no one.
      Of the ,3 candidates back then all 3 we're sleaze balls filled with ticks.
      1 was not a good choice
      2 was not a good choice
      3 Lopez Obrador was sub par,he ran in the past two times, never made it, during the collision time. This time he was finally elected.becausrthe others were no good.
      Then now he let's cartels grow, as CJNG is now in 28 States.

    2. Queso, todavia hiedes a patas

  6. What happened in Tijuana when Sinaloa came was a mess I moved out of Tijuana left my house 🏠 lost it never went back I blamed the media claiming the local cartel was finished caused of the arrest of El Senor in puebla and El Tio killed in Mazatlan it was very irresponsible publishing there were done everytime there was and arrest media claimed they were done Cartels like Tijuana will never be finished I hate to say there to powerful it’s just reality that’s why there the landlords and cartels pay a toll all kidnapping is the local cartel getting information out of the people that don’t pay a toll but media needs to be more responsible what they published alot of people died i lost my home I’ve never been back to my home land know I live in San Diego over price rent and Tijuana Cartel is still in control

  7. Replies
    1. Nope. According to his homosexual and non-binary Mexican voters, AMLO is a chick and identifies as a dude.


    2. 1:27 from now on,
      your name shall be chocha

    3. SIR is now Monkeypox 🐵


  8. Mister David Shirk skirts the issue that the drug trafficking attributed to the Guadalajara cartel was operated by and for CIA/NSA ROGUE AGENTS from the US doing dirty business at the shade of the Reagan administration and that the weapons used in most of México criminality get illegally trafficked by US weapons dealers, most of them Christians, I guess.


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