“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

At around 8:15AM on Thursday morning, June 6. Three men were shout outside of a stripclub/bar, La Cueva Bar del Peludo in Tijuana. One of the men, the target of the attack died.

Rubén Duarte Roque was 35 years old and better known as “El R” and earlier on “El Roque” or “El RR” and was a longtime figure under “Cabo 20” David Lopez Jimenez in Tijuana. Authorities allege “El R” was responsible for much of the violence in the Sanchez Taboada area.

Night Club Hit

The shooting occured after a late night turned morning at La Cueva Bar on Diaz Ordaz Blvd in the La Mesa neighborhood of Tijuana.

The club features exotic dancers and drinks with a night club style atmosphere. It doubles as a strip club with table top poles, private VIP rooms and the attached hotel/brothel Don Poncho.

According to their website, La Cueva del Peludo is the ‘Best Nightclub in La Mesa for 40 Years’:

In this nightclub you will find beautiful girls in a pleasant atmosphere that has become a tradition for 40 years, it also enjoys spectacular shows and enjoys regional Mexican music as well as live local groups of the moment, so you can dance in our great track accompanied by the best girls in the area.

We have excellent service from our attentive staff who offer you the best national and imported drinks, such as beers, wines and liquors, served from its spectacular bar. Get to know our exclusive VIP rooms where you will receive personalized attention and you can mingle with the girls.

Live the excitement of the best sporting events broadcast live on our multiple screens.

Spend the night or weekend at the “Hotel Don Poncho” located comfortably on the side, we have a large and secure parking lot for your comfort.


“El R”, his bodyguards and likely others had spent most of the night, into the morning drinking at the adult entertainment bar. When they left around 8:00AM, they were attacked, at least 5 shots were fired by two gunmen firing 9mm pistols.

Blood can be seen on the sidewalk and rock facade of the club. 

Those two gunmen then fled the area, past the Don Poncho hotel and into the restaurant El Sazon where they tossed their two guns into the trash can at the small cafe.

His two bodyguards were also injured during the attack. One of “El R’s” bodyguards injured was identified as Francisco Alejandro Sicairos Santiago, originally from Jalisco who had a criminal record of his own including arrests in 2015, 2021, and 2022. He was reportedly shot in his left armpit and ran from the scene across the street to a parking lot. He was stabilized and was listed in serious but stable condition at the local hospital.

The other injured bodyguard, Jose Alberto N, arrived at the Prado Hospital’s ER suffering a gunshot wound in his pelvis, claiming he was injured nearby but suspected of being involved in the shooting of “El R.”

Who Was “El R”?

Rubén Duarte Roque was a Tijuana native has a criminal record, including an arrest warrant completed in 2022 for homicide in the city of Tepic, Nayarit; and in 2023 for narcotics related crimes.

In 2010 he was arrested for assault stemming from a fight. In 2016 for crimes against health and in 2018 he was arrested for carrying a firearm. In 2016 he was injured by gunfire, the large scar across his sternum is evidence of this injury.

The discovery of remains in three coolers on September 21, 2021, was a message to “El R” with the accompanying manta from “Cabo 27” of the Old School reading.

Ruben Duarte Roque or the R Now open your eyes and realize the incompetence that you and your drug addict people are because it is the example you give them, record it, Sánchez already has a new owner.
“El R” and “La Naine” were called out alongside leading figure Pablo Edwin Huerta Nuño, known as “El Flaquito,” “Cabo 20” and others on a narcomanta from Los Cabos CDS for the recent attack on a family on August 6, 2021 that resulted in the death of the parents and their youngest son being injured.
In June 2022, authorities launched Operation Alfa-Sigma against the “Cabo 20” group in Tijuana. Of the 33 people arrested in the first part of the operation, 11 were identified with the “Cabo 20” group, 2 were cell leaders, and the other 8 were drug distributors, extortionists and hitmen. As evidence by “El R’s” death and the activities of others, many of those arrested were later freed.

During the operation, in Sánchez Taboada, the State Attorney General’s Office, arrested Emilia Belén Gil Rivera “Naine,” and “El R”. Roque was charged with the murder of Ramón Cárdenas Rosas, shot to death in December the year prior. “El Meño” was listed as ordering and planning the murder.

In October of that year, “El R” was transferred from Tijuana to CEFERESO 18 in Coahuila. However, in August 2023, he was released from prison and returned to Tijuana.

David “Cabo 20 or El Lobo” Lopez Jimenez was arrested in August 2020 in Nuevo Leon. He had initially joined the CJNG in 2015 and as many, began exapanding power in Tijuana. However in 2019, the Tijuana split occured with many becoming independent and allying with CAF and CDS figures such as “El Flaquito.”

Navigating through the web of alliances and double crosses; “El R” fell under the CAF-Los Chapitos allied faction in the Sanchez Taboada area working for “El Flaquito” and “El Apache.”

Authorities in Mexico point to “Cabo 20” as organizing the murder of Zeta Tijuana journalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel who was assassinated in January 2022 in the Sanchez-Taboada neighborhood that “El R” was reportedly in charge of but had disputed the area with Cabo 27. Cabo 27’s identity is not truly known. It is believed that “Cabo 27” is Jesus Rafael Yocupicio, working under the Arzate brothers and by extension “El Mayo’s” faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. “El Flaquito” and connected groups operate under Los Chapitos. There are also several theories that the CJNG or “El Aquiles” under the Arzate brothers were responsible.

Tijuana War Crosses Borders

As one of the key doorways to the US drug market, Tijuana has been fought over for decades by remnants of the CAF (Arellano-Felix Brothers) and the Sinaloa Cartel under “El Chapo.” Often, that war has spilled over into San Diego with hitmen crossing the borders as often as drug shipments.

Initially, the battle was directly between CAF and CDS, with San Diego Logan Heights gang members and Mexican Mafia figures being involved in the 1993 Guadalajara airport shooting of Bishop Ocampo while targetting “El Chapo.”

As the power of the Arellano-Felix family further declined with arrests and killings; CDS increased their precense in BC, so did the upstart CJNG planting its tenticles into the border region as just like their Sinaloan neighbors, their primary territory does not touch the US border.

Several local groups began to ally, split and form new alliances amongst the various cells affliated with the larger cartels. Los Cabos began as a cell for CDS and later split to ally with CJNG. An internal cleansing of leading CJNG figures in 2019 resulted in several splitting off to form their own groups or connect with local Sinaloa cells.

Many of the next generations of narcos spend time or have lived in the San Diego area as well. In the past few months, following years of violence in Tijuana and across Baja California; several shootings occurred north of the border.

In February, Christian Espinoza Silver, known as “El Chato” and another unidentified man were shot when pulling up to a luxury apartment garage in San Diego, across the street from the University City Westfield Mall. “El Chato” was killed and the passenger was wounded, the shooter, dressed in a hoodie with a camo backpack got away on foot. His girlfriend, or fiance, Vanessa Gurrola posted via social media numerous stories and videos of him in the days following his death. Vanessa was formerly linked romantically to Los Chapitos leader Ivan Archivaldo Guzman-Salazar.

The following month, still unconfirmed by Chula Vista Police authorities, two seemingly related shootings occured on March 26 and early March 27 in the city southeast of San Diego. The first being the wounding of “El Apache” James Bryant Corona in a Chili’s resturant parking lot.

Threats and attacks on “El Apache” in Tijuana had occurred over the last couple of years. He is seen as the successor to “Cabo 20” for “El Flaquito” but not Los Cabos. James Bryant Corona allegedly controls the Otay Mesa area including a trucking company Transportes Corona licensed in San Diego, California.