There are a lot of questions in the air surrounding Tijuana’s public safety infrastructure following the abrupt resignation of Tijuana’s police chief, Alejandro Lares, reports KPBS.
Lares made vague references to a media smear campaign against him on his way out the door. It’s unclear whether he was referring to a story that came out a day earlier on homeless migrants living in the city’s canals.
Another big problem Tijuana officials are grappling with: Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación has aggressively expanded from the states of Jalisco and Michoacán into Tijuana, rivaling other major groups like Los Zetas and the Knights Templar Cartel.
“The group’s growing presence coincides with a surge in homicides in Tijuana that started last spring,” the Union Tribune’s Sandra Dibble reports.
With the participation of Nueva Generación, the battle for control of Tijuana’s neighborhood drug trade and lucrative smuggling routes to the United States has entered a new phase, one that has left the Sinaloa cartel increasingly on the defensive and led to the defections of some of its members, according to law-enforcement officials.
Nueva Generación “is the new player in town that is trying to gain control of the Tijuana plaza,” said Gary Hill, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Diego office.
While the extent of Nueva Generación’s physical presence and influence is the subject of some debate, there is consensus about this: The group is now involved in both the street-level sales, narcomenudeo, and cross-border smuggling activities, called trasiego.
The group’s fast-growing reach is no coincidence, Dibble points out, as it is apparently being built on an old, familiar foundation.
To gain control in Tijuana, Nueva Generación has been recruiting former members of the Arellano Félix Organization and persuading Sinaloa operatives to switch sides, according to one U.S. law-enforcement official. “They’re not just lightly treading through here. They’re setting up shop and digging in their heels,” he said.