Hundreds of Mexican troops arrived in the city of Tijuana on Saturday after more than a dozen vehicles were hijacked and burned by gangs as part of escalated violence in the area.
Approximately 350 National Guard troops were flown in to support the thousands of federal troops already in the state of Baja California, Reforma reported. There were no reported injuries in the Tijuana hijackings that tangled up traffic throughout the city and temporarily blocked access to the busiest U.S. border crossing.
U.S. government employees were instructed Friday evening to shelter in place and avoid traveling to the city after reports of increased violence.
Hijackings in four other Baja cities led to the arrests of at least 17 people, according to Milenio TV.
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel threatened violence against anyone seen on the streets over the weekend in Northern Baja California.
“Be warned. As of Friday at 10 p.m. through Sunday at 3 a.m. we’re going to create mass chaos so the [expletive] government frees our people. We’re the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, we don’t want to hurt good people but it’s best they don’t go outside, we’re going to attack anyone we see on the streets on these days,” the group said in a warning translated from Spanish.
Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero said in a video message directed at the criminal gangs she attributed the hijackings to that they were not going to force the city to shut down.
“We are not going to allow a single Tijuana citizen to pay the consequences of those who didn’t pay their bills,” she said. “We ask that you make the people who owe you pay up, not the families and citizens who work.”
Caballero said in a separate press briefing that there were around 3,000 federal troops in the state that would assist Tijuana police. She emphasized that no civilians had been injured yet.
“The problem is serious, but it’s not that serious,” the mayor said.