Tijuana Hosts Presidential Debate amid 67 Percent Increase in Cartel Murders

AP File Photo Guillermo Arias

The four remaining presidential candidates for Mexico participated in a second debate Sunday in Tijuana as cartel violence continued with eight more homicides registered 24 hours before the event.

Eight different victims were murdered in various sections of the city from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, according to local media reports.

The first registered killing involved an unknown male with multiple gunshot wounds found at 2:14 pm, Saturday. The victim was declared dead at the scene.

The next incident was reported by a 9-1-1 call after the discovery of a deceased male with multiple gunshot wounds at 4:09 pm.

At 4:39 pm, police responded to a report of a shooting victim identified as Esteban Hernández, 35, found with a fatal bullet wound to the head.

At 6:08 pm, investigators located an unknown deceased victim whose sex was unidentifiable, tightly wrapped in plastic under a bridge.

At 6:57 pm, police responded to a call for a discovered unknown male with fatal gunshot wounds to the chest.

At 6:13 am on Sunday morning, police were alerted to the discovery of a charred body in a vacant lot–covered with tires.

At 9:27 am, authorities responded to a deceased body of an unknown victim found tied and wrapped in a white sheet with obvious signs of violence. At the same time, the body of an unknown woman with a gunshot wound to her face was located. According to initial reports, the suspect was the victim’s husband.

Cartel killings in Tijuana are continuing at an alarming rate with 207 registered in April, bringing the total for 2018 to 758—a 67 percent increase over the same period in 2017.

Cartel violence is attributed to a resurgence of remnants from Cártel de Los Arellano Félix, which is now operating under the name of Cártel Tijuana Nueva Generación (CTNG). The group aligns itself with El Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación. The groups are engaged in a turf dispute with the Sinaloa Cartel.

With the July 1 presidential election approaching, four remaining candidates participated in the second televised debate: Independent Jaime Rodriguez Calderon; Ricardo Anaya of the National Action Party (PAN); Jose Antonio Meade of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA).

The latest polls indicate that leftist candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has a comfortable lead. Main topics covered during the debate included trade, migrants, the fight against criminal drug gangs, and Mexico-United States border issues.

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 out of the U.S. consulate general in Monterrey, Mexico, working 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