Another attack at the San Ysidro border crossing as American tourist continue being targets in Baja California

  • They rob an American in front of his little daughters while he was in line.
  • The victim’s daughters had to act as translators during the assault.
  • You will stop visiting Tijuana after the experience.

TIJUANA.- After the video of the moment in which a family is stripped of their vehicle when they lined up to cross into the United States through the San Ysidro checkpoint, after the video of the moment in which a family is stripped of their vehicle, another case comes to light, this time it was about the assault on a citizen of United States origin queuing at the same border crossing.

“According to them, the vehicle was surrounded by four individuals and there began to generate violence against the vehicle, which generated greater nervousness on the part of his daughters, as well as his, to which he agreed to grant them the requested amount,” he said. Esteban Capella Ibarra, Family member of the victim.

Because the victim did not speak Spanish and because he did not understand what was happening, his daughters, minors and terrified, had to act as interpreters for the assailants.

“There he generated a situation of opportunity for them to generate a kind of threat, in which, well, they were going to deprive him of his life, if not he gave them an amount of money, I mean, 250 dollars, a situation like what he gave them” added.

The events occurred on the lanes on the left side on August 5, in the middle of the day, no police saw the area, much less someone approached to help them.

“He did not file a complaint, he was only invited not to return to the city of Tijuana and because I believe that it is a situation that must be solved, so that it does not continue to happen,” he added.

This week the Municipal Security and Citizen Protection Secretariat reported that to date they have not had any complaint of criminal acts at the sentry box through 911 and reported that they have maintained a permanent operation since the beginning of the administration and that they reinforced since last June in the San Ysidro gatehouse.

Cártel de la Línea goes unpunished

After 71 police operations carried out during the last ten weeks at the San Ysidro Garita in Tijuana, “Los Mostros” and “Los del Duty Free”, groups identified as Cartel de la Línea, continue to extort users of the border port. Witnesses assure that their continuity is due to the fact that they pay protection to the heads of the Tourist Police, who protect them by informing them of the sweeps of the security forces

“Los Mostros” control the left lane on one side of the medical pass line, while “Los del Duty Free” intervene in the right lanes, close to the Sentri line. Both groups are identified as Cartel de la Línea and continue to extort money from tourists at the San Ysidro Garita in Tijuana.

Undercover by the Tourist Police, they continue to commit crimes despite the daily operations carried out by coordinated forces of the Municipal Public Security Secretariat. In the best of cases, extortionists only enter and leave the Municipal Farm of Violators, accused of offenses against the Police and Good Government Side.

In border crossing traffic, criminals spot cars with American plates, which look expensive. They then walk across lanes and obstruct traffic, causing drivers to brake. They choose the one who looks confused and arrest him.

As if they were authorities, they beckon him to stop and edge. Once cornered, they lie to him, they assure him that they have made the wrong lane, they warn him that if they arrive at the booths with the immigration agents from the United States, the fine will be 5,000 dollars, or worse, they warn them that they may lose their documents that allow them to cross, and offer to solve the problem for less.

“According to the toad the stone”, depends on the disposition that the victims show, but they come to pay from 30 to 500 dollars, “sometimes more, to have more money they have come to accompany them to the ATMs,” said the source.

Those who have witnessed this movement for years and have talked with the protagonists, estimate the earnings of each group is 1,500 to 1,700 dollars a day.

They commit extortion in front of the elements of the Tourist Police, who, wearing their yellow vests, patrol the area. “They are ordered by the bosses to let them operate when there are no operations,” the witnesses say.

ZETA carried out tours on Friday, August 7 and Monday, August 10, observing the subjects cornering their victims while two groups of policemen were less than 10 meters apart.

“They are arranged with Chief Gándara, that’s why the police don’t do anything to them. They even warn them when there are joint operations with other authorities, that is the reason why, despite the continuous operations, they are not detained ”, stated a complainant.

Photo: Courtesy.- They lie to them, they say that the user made the wrong lane, and they charge them to get them out of the line.

Workers of the line assured that Felipe Gándara Ríos, who until Tuesday, August 11, served as head of the Tourist Police, was receiving a weekly payment from the extortionists of approximately 1,500 dollars – the amount of one day of earnings – and that the Business includes former supervisors Julio Coronado, José Mora, Jesús Solís and Gabriela Díaz. They even mentioned deputy chief Felipe González.

“Al ´Guasave´, one of those who is dedicated to selling dogs, they beat him and took his money instead of arresting him”, so simplistic to keep the dollars of the criminals in the area.

They knew that “El Guasave” was not going to report, because he belongs to the group of “Los Perreros”, other subjects with illegal operations in the sentry box who sell dogs. On the one hand, they are sellers without permission, and on the other, the They offer as purebred animals at high prices, but they are not, so buyers are framed.


As a result of the police operation last weekend in the Garita de Otay, six “jaladores” were arrested, with that qualifier they identify in the Municipal Police these men who charge either:

* For getting ahead in line to cross faster into the United States.

* For “removing” them from the wrong row.

If they paid their fine, these men return to the street immediately, if not, it takes a maximum of 36 hours to return to their illicit activity at the border crossing.

While this was happening in Otay, at the San Ysidro crossing they operated with impunity, as follows:

  1. In the left lanes, “Los Mostros”. It is a group of ten large, tall, obese and dark men, led by a man nicknamed “El Mostro” and his second “El Chivo”. They are always where the line on one side of the medical lane begins, sometimes in groups of two or four, they are striking and not discreet in their operation.

After arresting a victim and extracting money from them, in a quick movement – if necessary – they take them out in reverse, or redirect them and simply open paths for them to exit on Second Street.

“On some occasions these men have already climbed and robbed their victims, taken their wallets and fled among the cars. But in the few cases that the tourist has taken the time to report, the police warn them and hide. That’s why they never get caught ”, assured a neighbor to the sentry box.

“They feel so untouchable and that nothing is going to happen to them, that even when the victims resist they are told that they are policemen,” he added.

  1. In the right lanes, “Los del Duty Free”. They try to blend in, move individually and most carry badges as sellers, but unlike the rest, they talk on the phone and do not bring merchandise.They circulate on foot in the vicinity of the Sentri row, in front of the free store of taxes,

His business lies in crossing the clueless who without papers enter the special line, and put them in the regular lines, in an advanced place.

At that point, the workers and witnesses of the line have identified “El Puma”, “El Alex”, “El Tortugo”, “El Sony”, “El Charly”, “El Gato”, “El Cholo” and ” The Chairs ”, the latter is due to the fact that he is in a wheelchair.

As criminals, despite the agreements with the heads of the Tourist Police, they have organized what among criminals call a hawking system , people who are dedicated to monitoring the entry of unscheduled police operations or suspicious activity.

Photo: Courtesy.- More than 10 subjects are dedicated to extorting money in the left lanes of the San Ysidro sentry box.

On Monday, August 11, around noon, ZETA witnessed how suddenly, a green truck arrived at the “Los Mostros” operating point and hurriedly took four of them who were together, as if they had been notified of a unwanted presence.

In fact, the second route of the Semanario was detected by the “ hawks ” of the Cartel de la Línea, after this medium remained for a long time in the upper part of the pedestrian bridge on the right side, observing the activity.

First, the follow-up was carried out by a short man, dark, with a mustache and in his 30s, escorted by two tall young men; in the end, a man between 40 and 50 years old.


Although the checkpoint has always been a business “and the people of ´Los Mostros´ presume that they have been there for more than 10 years”, the operation of a “cartel” on the Line was reported to the Tijuana City Council in late 2016 and early 2017 , upon the arrival of the former PAN mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum Buenrostro.

The activity was revealed mainly through social networks, by users who annoying video recorded how the “jaladores” went through opportunistic citizens who paid to be placed in front of the long lines.

In March 2017, as head of the Tijuana Tourist Police, Gabriela García announced the carrying out of an operation in the vicinity of the Garita de San Ysidro, explained that it was planned against the Cartel de la Línea to detain people surprised by charging and leaving pass motorists to get in line. Ten people were arrested for disturbing the order and for other reasons.

Then Chief García assured that they would no longer allow these groups to operate in border land ports. Three years and four months later, she was reappointed as head of the Tourist Police, and these groups continue to operate on the Line as at the beginning of the previous three-year period. Since October 2019, upon the arrival of the Morenista Arturo González Cruz to the mayoralty of Tijuana, citizens denounced the Cartel de la Línea and demanded action.

“Jorge, don’t let go of the international lines,” was the instruction he received from the mayor, explained the Secretary of Public Security, Captain Jorge Ayón Monsalve.

They carried out one operation in December, another in February, one more in March. “Then we saw the need to carry out permanent operations”, which are carried out daily, some started at 5:30 am, by between 15 and 20 elements of the International Liaison Unit and the Tourist Police, who enter places where they are they see people who are sheltered in a suspicious attitude, they check them and if they find something, they make them available.

“But it is a game of cat and mouse, we walk, they observe us, they cross to the other side, they wait for us to pass by and they return to their activities,” admitted Captain Ayón.

“We started permanent operations in June, that month we carried out 25 operations, we arrested 193 people for administrative offenses, we also had 20 detainees who tried to cross illegally into the United States; In July, there were 37 operations with 157 detainees, four of them because they cut the border fence and one detained like 10 kilograms of glass in the Sentri. During the first seven days of August, there were nine operations with 41 detainees, surely as of today the figures are higher, ”the secretary explained.

There were 71 operations over 10 weeks, with 491 detainees, however, the majority were captured solely for administrative offenses, and taken to the Municipal Farm of Offenders, a place they left after 36 hours of imprisonment. Or earlier, if they pay the fine.


“The issue is that asking for money, in and of itself, is not a crime,” explained Baja California’s central prosecutor, Hiram Sánchez.

Regarding extortion as an imputable legal figure and the possibility of using it to combat the Cartel de la Línea, the state official commented that they need to define a criminal hypothesis “in order to be able to arrest and charge them, in addition to asking for money, it must be proven that there was violence and intimidation ”.

– Bullying can be when you tell them they are going to take them to their roles or that they will fined 5,000 US dollars ?, asked ZETA.

“If they tell you that they are going to take away your visa, it could fit, but it would have to work”, verify to what extent the intimidation can be confirmed through the indications and evidence available.

Another part that makes it difficult to file charges is that the victims are in transit to the United States, and knowing that the criminals will have no consequences, they are not interested in staying on the Mexican side and investing time in reporting, and in terms of the identification of the extortionists, Ayón indicated that the Municipal Police Intelligence Area is already working on an organization chart.

This Weekly was able to testify that on Friday, August 7, the elements were working at the San Ysidro Garita, but their presence was also detected by the criminals and by the corrupt policemen who overlap them.

Questioned regarding the collusion of the previous heads of the Tourist Police, the secretary assured that he had not received a complaint, “but we are changing the bosses and the police,” including Gándara, to get them out of their comfort zone and prevent them from generating interest.

– Are you investigating the finances of the relocating agents? The complainants claim that the money that Gándara received from the extortionists allowed him to buy a car recently … 

“I did not receive complaints if it had happened, not only would I have relocated it.”

To conclude, the Secretary of Municipal Public Security of Tijuana asked for support from the citizens:

“In the sentry boxes we have already received a response from some tenants who have given us information, but the call is for the garita community in general, help us,” and he urges the victims of extortion to report.


Baja California Post