Crime and Violence

Amid key arrests, Baja California remains embroiled in a deadly turf battle

Baja California, while not experiencing the levels of violence it suffered in the final months of 2008, still captures headlines for the explosive nature of violent outbreaks, particularly in Tijuana. On June 5, there were six recorded ejecuciones in Tijuana over the course of nine hours – in two cases, only heads were found. The murders have been referred to the Federal Attorney General’s Office for investigation. In at least two of the cases, the bodies were found with narcomensajes, messages left with victims’ bodies with warnings for rival gang members. In response to the wave of killings, Baja California Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez said that they were a result of an ongoing drug war in the region. Since last December, the remnants of the Arellano Felix cartel have been locked in a turf battle with the gang of
assassins led by Teodoro García Simental, or “El Teo,” who is a former member of the Arellano Felix cartel and now allegedly heads Sinaloa Cartel operations in the region.

Mexican authorities report having made arrests of key members of El Teo’s organization over the past month. A federal judge on June 13 announced a 40-day pretrial detention for José Filiberto Parra Ramos, “La perra,” allegedly a top lieutenant for El Teo. Parra, who reportedly broke from the Arellano Felix cartel last year along with El Teo, is wanted by the DEA, and has been blamed for perpetrating much of the violence suffered late last year in the region, including the murders of two agents of the now-extinct Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI) in Tecate April of last year. Earlier, authorities announced the capture by Mexican soldiers of Bernardo Cristóbal Arellano Mejía, “El Morete,” another suspected lieutenant of El Teo’s to whom authorities have attributed the killings of three municipal police officers in Tecate, where Arellano Mejía allegedly operated.

From the June Justice in Mexico Project’s Monthly News Report:

“Homicidios de hoy a la PGR: Rommel.” El Sol de Tijuana June 5, 2009.
Martínez, Julieta. “Capturan a sobrino de los Arellano Félix.” El Universal June 6, 2009.
Tulio Castro, Marco. “Capturan al Morete.” El Sol de Tijuana June 7, 2009.
“Drug-trafficking suspect in custody.” San Diego Union Tribune June 11, 2009.

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