Latin America: Tijuana Mayor Vows to Investigate Entire Police Force for Links to Drug Trade

The mayor of the Mexican border city of Tijuana, Jorge Hank Rhon, announced over the weekend that the entire municipal police force is to be investigated for involvement in the drug trade. The city is home to the Arellano Felix drug trafficking organization, one of the most powerful in Mexico. The group is locked in a bloody battle with the competing "Juarez cartel," led by the criminal heirs of the legendary Amado Carrillo Fuentes, known as the "Lord of the Skies" before his death in 1997. Dozens of people have been killed this year in Tijuana in battles between the rival groups.

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Tijuana police logo (courtesy DrugWar.com)
Tensions have worsened in the city since the August arrest of Francisco Javier Arellano Felix by US authorities off the Baja California coast in August. Since then, violence has escalated, and the dead include at least five police officers from city, state, or federal agencies, including assistant Tijuana police chief Arturo Rivas Vaca, who was gunned down in his patrol car in mid-September.

After that incident, Tijuana officials accused federal law enforcement officials of not doing enough to help fight the traffickers, which prompted an unusually testy response from the federal attorney general's office. In a communiqué issued in late September, the office accused Mayor Rhon and Tijuana secretary of public safety Luis Javier Algorri Franco of "complacency or direct complicity" with the drug traffic.

Rhon was also facing pressure from powerful Tijuana business interests worried that the corruption and violence could affect their bottom lines. The major business group in the city, the Entrepreneurial Coordinating Council, had announced last month it was boycotting public functions until local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies began working together, and last week, it threatened to move businesses from the city unless something was done.

That is apparently what prompted Rhon's weekend call for a mass investigation of the municipal police. While police corruption in Tijuana has been endemic for years -- local police report 66 of their own arrested in the past six months -- it is the open political spat between Rhon and Mexico City that greased the wheels for the investigation and the pressure from business that made it happen.

"Everyone from the policeman on the beat to the state police superintendent will be subject to this investigation," Rhon told a weekend press conference.

"We haven't waited for anyone to come from outside to help us with the theme of corruption," Algorri said in the weekend press conference announcing the mass investigation of Tijuana's 2,300 police. Algorri added that it was unfair to single out the city police. "The problem of corruption in police agencies is a reality, and all of the police agencies have problems with corruption," he said.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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POLICE CORRUPTION

THE POLICE IN TIJUANA ARE CRIMINALS . I WAS VACATIONING IN TIJUANA. MY FRIEND AND I WERE ARRESTED BY THE POLICE ON FALSE CHARGES , ROBBED BY THE POLICE , THROWN IN JAIL FOR 2 DAYS AND THEN THE MEXICAN PRISON FOR 4 DAYS. THE WHOLE ORDEAL COST ME $13,000 CASH PLUS A WEEK OF MISSED WORK. THE POLICE ABUSE THEIR POWER AND AUTHORITY EXCESSIVELY. IF DRASTIC CHANGES ARE NOT MADE THE BAJA REGION OF MEXICO WILL BECOME JUST ANOTHER 3RD WORLD DESTINATION. I HAVE BEEN THERE MANY TIMES AND SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON VARIOUS GOODS AND SERVICES ,FISHING HOTELS, GIFTS FOOD. I AM JUST 1 OF THOUSANDS OF TOURISTS WHO WILL NEVER STEP ACROSS THE MEXICAN BORDER EVER AGAIN. WHAT THE MEXICAN POLICE DID TO ME WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF KIDNAPING AND EXTORTION. GOOD LUCK TO ANYONE WHO DECIDES TO VACATION IN MEXICO, THEY WILL NEED IT.

robbed in Tijuana

I was captured in Tijuana on July 13,2008, by a policeman badge #0-20 and told that I was to be taken to the police dept to pay a $153 fing for not respecting Mexico laws.I had not done anything but over the course of 30 minutes of checking my registration and license the policeman asked repeatedly if I had enough to pay the fine. I did not but eventually he handed me a U-haul trailer brochure and told me tp put $40 in it and give it back...so I did. With in 2 minutes I was on my way .If you go to Mexico ,the police will find you and steal your money.This is not the worst thing that can happen to you.The police will screen you for far away visitors or people likely to have money. I reccommend carring your money in serveral places (some hidden), do not get angry, stay calm and Try to negociate out of some of the coercive theft. Americans are the victems on both sides of the border by both governments . one side is outright theft and on the American side it is theft by taxes for illegal aliens services,driving habits,schooling , etc.It is hard to win under these conditions. Joseph

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