Police officers guard a crime scene where a man was killed by gun fire in downtown Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on April 21, 2019. (GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)
TIJUANA, Mexico.— A Mexican drug cartel has killed at least six cops in Tijuana after local police officers stole a large cocaine cargo from a stash house, according to local authorities. Early in December 2023 a group of five local Tijuana policemen arrived at a house inside a gated community. They said they were there to seize drugs after an investigation, but they never turned over the drugs they seized, according to local news reports.
Days later the audio recording of a phone call between a local cop and an alleged cartel member was leaked to local media. On the call the cartel member asked the policeman to return the drugs he allegedly stole…or else. "We sent you to watch over the job on Friday, dude, what they were stealing from us, and you joined the fucking thieves," the man on the phone said to a police commander allegedly involved in the drugs theft.Since then at least six police officers have been killed and five others injured in the streets of Tijuana, raising the alarms for every law enforcement office in the city. The latest police officer killed was Keevin Gaxiola, a recent graduate whose body was found naked and tortured next to the body of another man. Local news reported that the other man killed was known as ‘El Tommy’ and was part of the rival cartel that bought the stolen drugs from the police. Both were found by authorities on the night of January 27 lying to the side of a pick-up truck. Authorities said they were killed by asphyxia.
Tijuana’s chief of police, Fernando Sánchez, said that some of his elements “make themselves vulnerable” when they participate in organized crime offenses.“Unfortunately whenever they (policemen) decide to participate in criminal activities that of course, are not dictated by this government, they put themselves at risk,” Sánchez told VICE News. In Tijuana, there are mainly two major criminal organizations: the Sinaloa Cartel factions run by infamous drug boss Ismael 'El Mayo' Zambada through 'Los Arzate’ brothers, Aquiles and René; and the Tijuana Cartel, led by Pablo Edwin Huerta, known as ‘El Flaquito’, according to Sánchez.The rivalry between these two cartels are putting local police officers in the center of a battleground for the control of Tijuana, as criminal gangs also try to hold control of the police. “It is a difficult situation we are in right now, but I can assure you none of the criminal behavior our agents are having is part of our directions, they are acting on their own,” Sánchez said. In Mexico, on average, a police officer is murdered every day, according to statistics from the non-profit organization that tracks crime rates in the country, 'Causa En Común.’Now the state of Guanajuato has the highest number of murdered police officers with 60 agents killed during 2023. It is followed by Guerrero with 40, Zacatecas with 32, Michoacán with 28, and Jalisco, with 24. “In our country it is easy to kill a policeman and on rare occasions an investigation will follow or an arrest will be made,” reads Causa en Común latest report on the killing of policemen in Mexico.