Police Commander Killed near Tijuana Tourist Spot

Jonathan Arámbula Gutiérrez

The police commander of Grupo de Operaciones Especiales (GOE), a special operations unit from the beach city of Rosarito, was murdered outside the popular tourist nightspot Macroplaza during the early morning hours of June 20.

The Director of the Municipal Police of Rosarito, Adrián Hernández Pérez, informed the media of the commander’s death at a press conference in Rosarito, approximately 20 miles from the California border. The director told the local media the murdered police commander was identified as Jonathan Arámbula Gutiérrez, a nine-year veteran of the municipal police force who was off-duty celebrating a personal achievement with friends.

Arámbula Gutiérrez was in a private vehicle and dressed in civilian clothes. He was retrieving a parking ticket from a booth at approximately 1:45 am when two gunmen approached and opened fire at his vehicle, striking him. The suspects fled in a Honda Accord and were later spotted by Tijuana police and eventually captured the pair after a short foot chase–recovering two firearms.

The police director of Rosarito said he believed Arámbula Gutiérrez may have been targeted because of his team’s work arresting high-profile violent suspects tied to the narcotics trade and recently received threats.

The Macroplaza property or “La Macro” is a popular tourist and local hangout due to the many bars and restaurants, including American chains and a modern movie theater.

Tijuana continues to experience shocking levels of cartel-related violence with an average of 6.5 homicides reported per day in 2018, according to statistics from the state attorney general’s office. During the month of June, at least 135 killings were reported with a total for the year at 1,120.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at robertrarce@gmail.com