Despite the messages shared in social media by state and municipal authorities to call the population to calm down, as well as the actions of the law enforcement authorities, criminals continued their activities this weekend.
On Saturday night, two people from Jalisco and from Tijuana set a Jeep Cherokee truck on fire outside a convenience store located in Colonia La Ahumadita, by the Tijuana Highway. After this incident, Mexicali police arrested Fabián “N,” 20, and Brayan Rubén “N,” 22, who were apparently involved in the incident.
In addition, three vehicles were set on fire in Hacienda del Bosque with Molotov cocktails at 3:30 a.m. Saturday. In the case, a gray Honda, a white Geo Prizm and a cherry-colored Chrysler Voyager pickup were set on fire.
“Given the events that occurred tonight, elements of the Municipal Department of Public Security, Firefighters and Civil Protection, in coordination with state and federal authorities, are attending to the situation,” Mexicali Mayor Norma Bustamante wrote on social media. “We ask people to remain calm and report any incident to the 911 number.”
However, criminals ignored the message as on Sunday a fire was reported in a bus owned by Tours San Carlos — a private company that provides transportation services of personnel from manufacturing plants. This incident took place in the Portales subdivision, next to the Tulicheck Canal.
The suspects took the driver down from the truck and subsequently set the vehicle on fire.
Between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, six vehicles were set on fire in Mexicali.
“As a result of the events that occurred on the afternoon and evening of Friday, August 12 in Baja California, authorities from the three levels of government, immediately and in response to the problems that arose, acted in coordination and in unity to implement in all the municipalities of the entity, the necessary actions and strategies to defend and protect Baja Californians,” the State Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
According to state authorities, those detained in the operations were transported to Mexico City.
The Mexicali Police reported that Magdalena “N,” Luis Javier “N” and Sergio Andrés “N,” originally from Tijuana, were arrested Friday for their alleged involvement in the arsons reported Friday.
“The elements of the different (law enforcement agencies) that make up the Security Coordination Board continue to be deployed, in order to work to guarantee peace and safeguard citizens,” Attorney General Iván Carpio said in a video shared on social media. “The institutions that make up this organization, headed by Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda, work together in activities throughout the Baja California territory, to address the criminal problem that has arisen.”
Much like the Mexicali mayor, Carpio asked people to remain calm and united.
“Society and authorities are stronger,” the attorney general continued. “We will not lower our guard, we call for unity and denounce all those acts that seek to take away our peace of mind, we are here to protect and serve.”
Early Monday morning, two passenger trucks, a taxi cab and two private vehicles were set on fire in Mexicali, where a total of 14 vehicles have been burned since Friday.
Military authorities reported Monday to have over a thousand elements in Baja California, where so far in 2022 more than 800 people have been detained. The authorities also reported the seizure of more than 300 vehicles, 400 weapons, 8,000 kilograms of marijuana, 600 kilograms of cocaine, 10,233 kilograms of methamphetamine, and 540 kilograms of fentanyl. Such actions had allegedly caused violent acts, the authorities said.
Military intelligence reports indicate a constant struggle between the Pacific Cartel, the Jalisco Cartel and the Arellano Félix have also caused violence.
Despite the fact that international experts described the incidents as terrorism, Mexican authorities assure that these were mere acts of vandalism to attract attention and create conditions for the population to consider that there is a lack of insecurity in the state.
The authorities reported over the weekend the deployment of 200 members of the Army Special Forces in the state to support law enforcement activities, especially in Tijuana, Ensenada and Rosarito.
In this last city, the urban music Rosarito Beach Fest was held over the weekend with thousands of attendees.
“There are a significant number of men working,” Secretary of National Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval said in a press conference Monday. “Criminals identified the places where they are facilitated to burn vehicles.”
In the state, the authorities had recorded 36 events with 25 vehicles burned despite the fact that the National Guard and the Secretary of National Defense have deployed all of their personnel to the streets to patrol and avoid impacting residents.
The Mexican authorities reported Monday that eight of those arrested over the weekend were transported to the country’s capital to respond to allegations of organized crime. In total, federal authorities reported 17 detainees.
Of these detainees, three were arrested in Mexicali and taken to Mexico City.
Mexican authorities, including President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, have called these incidents as “criminal propaganda” to cause “social psychosis” due to their decreased criminal capacity.
The Mexican government reported that over the weekend there were 3,330 detainees in the country. In addition, last weekend has been the one that has registered the fewest homicides so far in 2022, with 196 cases.
Secretary of Government Adán Augusto López said that the federal government has a strategy to combat insecurity that is already giving results with a drop in the incidence of crime.
“But that doesn’t mean we’re not exempt from backlash,” he said. “The security strategy is paying off.”
The Mexican authorities assured that the events on the northern border are being dealt with in a “very coordinated” manner with local authorities.
The Secretary of National Defense explained that the violence is not generalized in the country, but concentrated in 50 municipalities.
“The U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana continues to closely monitor the security situation in Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate, and Mexicali,” the US Department of State said Monday. “The August 12 instructions to U.S. government personnel to shelter in place are no longer in effect.”
However, the US Department of State reminded citizens to reconsider travel to Baja California due to crime and kidnapping.
Also, US citizens were asked to be aware of their surroundings, follow instructions of local authorities, notify friends and family of your safety, monitor local media for updates and in case of emergency, call 911.
Police Chief clarifies recent arson cases
Mexicali Police Chief Pedro Ariel Mendívil said only the vehicle arson cases reported Friday are considered as acts of terrorism.
In a press conference held Monday at City Hall, Chief Mendívil said the other cases were held by local criminals.
The police arrested three Tijuana suspects in Mexicali who were transported to Mexico City.
The three suspects are allegedly linked to a drug cartel.
The last burned vehicles were reported early Monday. Since those cases no other burned vehicles have been reported by the police. The police arrested five suspects over the weekend. Chief Mendívil said 1,500 police officers were deployed all over the municipality to protect residents.
Businesses affected by weekend’s arson cases
Mexicali businesses reported a significant decline in sales over the weekend as customers decided to stay at home while criminals burned out vehicles on the street.
Mexicali National Chamber of Commerce reported a sales decline of up to 30 percent, La Crónica newspaper reported.
Chamber President Lidia Granados called residents to avoid generating panic with fake news.
So far, chamber members have operated normally. However, the chamber has worked along with Mexicali Police in order to strengthen business security.
The dozen vehicles burned in the last days also kept customers away from eateries.
Restaurant Chamber President Raúl Vasquez told La Voz newspaper uncertainty refrained clients from dining out.
Regularly, capacity during the weekends goes up to 60 percent, but the last one only reached 40 percent.
Around 90 percent of chamber members closed early on Friday after the first two cases were reported that day.
On Saturday, 30 percent of eateries opened late while three decided to remain closed, Vasquez said.
In the meantime, public transit companies suspended service and employees were forced to leave early.
Vasquez said the chamber met with Mexicali police in order to seek additional protection. “People behaved tranquil — some of them left and others finished their dinner,” Vasquez said about customer reaction after the first two reports of burned vehicles. “People were a little confused. It was something we had never loved in Mexicali.”
Hotel reservations cancelled after arson cases
After Mexicali witnessed a dozen vehicles burned over the weekend one out of every five hotel reservations were cancelled, according to media reports.
José Holguín Navarro, President of Mexicali’s Association of Hotels and Motels, told La Voz newspaper that some guests preferred to leave town right after the first incidents were reported.
Holguín added that many visitors from the other side of the border were afraid of a curfew and the closure of the border.
The association president considered that rumors spread on social media helped spread panic among visitors.
Holguín expects visitors to return starting Thursday. “If things continue like this it will affect hotels and restaurants,” Holguín told the newspaper.