Cartel violence engulfs Mexican border cities

Gang members are reportedly targeting civilians and blocking roads

The cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, and Ensenada on the US-Mexico border have been besieged by violence as rival drug cartels battle over territory and wage war with police. The violence has been so severe that the US Consulate in Tijuana advised its employees to “shelter in place until further notice” on Friday night.

State officials in Baja California reported 24 vehicles had been hijacked and set on fire throughout the state, with 15 of those located in Tijuana. The city’s mayor, Monserrat Caballero, blamed “organized crime groups,” pleading with the cartels to “settle their debts with those who didn’t pay what they owe, not with families and hard-working citizens.”

The carnage kept the city shut down for most of Saturday, though Caballero said some buses and van routes had resumed service by the evening. One person was wounded and 17 suspects were detained, according to the federal public safety department – seven in Tijuana, four in Rosarito, and another four in Mexicali.

The authorities identified some of those arrested as members of the Jalisco cartel, which has been tied to a series of shootings and arson incidents earlier this week at stores in the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato.

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On Thursday, nine people were killed in Ciudad Juarez, including four MegaRadio station employees broadcasting from a promotional event outside a pizza store, after rival gangs began fighting at a local prison.

Just two days earlier, cartel gunmen had burned vehicles and properties across Jalisco and Guanajuato states, including 25 convenience stores of the Oxxo chain, in response to police efforts to arrest a high-ranking Jalisco cartel figure. 

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador decried the violence, lamenting that the cartels had “attacked the civilian, innocent population like a sort of revenge. It wasn’t just a clash between two groups, but it got to the point where they began to shoot civilians, innocent people. That is the most unfortunate thing in this affair.”

* This article was originally published here