Tijuana Killings Disrupt Period Of Relative Calm
January 30, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- The slayings of five males in Tijuana on Saturday has disrupted a long period of calm in the city, a reminder that despite a recent decrease in drug violence, cartel rivalries in Tijuana are still active.

Gunmen stormed a family gathering in a central Tijuana neighborhood Saturday night, took four men and a 13-year-old boy into the kitchen, and executed them, police said.

Authorities said one victim was the brother of Omar Cabrera Bengochea, a former Tijuana police officer recently arrested for having ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel. Police detained several suspects in nearby Rosarito Beach.

The shooting is notable because it comes after an extended period of relative calm in Tijuana. Drug related murders have been on a steep decline, and while there have been several recent murders involving drug traders, this was the first flare-up of violence in several months that appears linked to organized crime.

"There's a lot of drug activity, but not much violence," said Vicente Calderon, editor of TijuanaPress.com, which covers crime trends in the city. "And this is proof that organized crime is still very active in Tijuana. But it's just that they are trying to keep a lower profile because when things get out of hand, the authorities put more pressure on them."

He said Saturday's murders appear to have been meant as a warning to the arrested police officer by members of a rival drug gang.

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