After spiking to unprecedented levels last year, the bloodshed in Tijuana has continued at an unrelenting pace in the new year as two powerful drug trafficking organizations battle for control of the city’s lucrative street drug sales: The long-established Sinaloa cartel and a newer, aggressive group known as the cartel Nueva Generación Jalisco (CJNG), the Los Angeles Times reports. As homicides soared to unprecedented levels across Mexico in 2017, Tijuana registered one of the steepest increases. The tally was a record 1,744 homicides, almost double the record of 910 homicides set in 2016. “The main issue right now with the power struggle is Sinaloa and the CJNG battling for street dealers,” said a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official. “You have got to understand, the money that they make in Tijuana, that’s as much as crossing the border” with smuggled drugs.
The killings are centered in the city’s impoverished, working class neighborhoods. About 90 percent of the victims are low-level operatives in the local drug trade. Many victims’ bodies are unclaimed, some because they are from other parts of Mexico. “There are a lot of people from outside” the region, said Gerardo Sosa Olachea, Baja California’s public safety secretary. “They’re sent up here to get rid of people.”Tijuana’s public safety secretary, Marco Antonio Sotomayor, believes a key step to bringing down the violence is reducing the demand for illicit drugs by battling addiction. Methamphetamine is the biggest problem, followed by heroin. Explaining the level of violence, David Shirk of the University of San Diego said, “There is no over-arching umbrella of control by the larger organizations that are able to establish rules of the game. There’s confusion and disarray at the lower levels because there’s no one to call the shots.”