“HEARST” and “Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

A funeral wreath and a CJNG narco message signed by “Senor Mencho” was left for the new commander of the Baja state police in the border city of Tijuana.



The Busiest Smuggling Point

Close to 90% of the illicit fentanyl seized by the US is discovered as it’s smuggled through official border crossings, called ports of entry. US Homeland Security says that more than half of those fentanyl smugglers were found to be US citizens.

The most common smuggling method used at these crossings involves hiding drug packages inside passenger vehicles or on the bodies of pedestrians.


Busier border crossings have less thorough screenings, which means more product can be crossed each day – and the busiest border crossing of them all is the San Ysidro port of entry, which links the Mexican city of Tijuana with the US city of San Diego.


This information helps give us context as to why every inch of territory in Tijuana is fought over by a multitude of different drug cartels. The more territory a cartel group has in Tijuana, the more money they can make.


Tijuana, much like other major cities, contains multiple major cartel factions (like CDS and CJNG). Oftentimes, the hitmen on the street form gang-like units which will often switch “sides” – changing which of the major cartel factions they work under.


In these territory wars, one of the most valuable assets to have is the loyalty of a law enforcement institution – whether that’s the municipal police officers, or the state police officers, or the various military soldiers which patrol the streets of each city district.

A cartel’s ability to corrupt these law enforcement agencies, most often through agreements to pay officers weekly bribes, is essential to their ultimate success within the city.

August 11, 2023

Earlier this month, on August 11, Ricardo Iván Carpio, the state Attorney General of Baja California, suddenly resigned from the position, citing “personal reasons.” 

Speculation about the cause for his resignation swirled. Earlier this year, Tijuana’s Mayor Montserrat Caballero blamed Carpio for not doing enough about an assassination attempt made against her which left one of her bodyguards injured. As previously. Mayor Caballero has had to move onto a military base due to frequent attempts to assassinate her.

Carpio has also faced some scrutiny over his handling of the investigation into suspected serial killer Bryant Rivera, an American who frequently crossed the border to target sex workers in Tijuana. 

A day before he announced his resignation, he held a press conference to talk about recent homicide cases in the state and he made no mention of his departure or even of any upcoming announcement. This may signal that it was not something Carpio anticipated. 

August 23, 2023

The governor sent a list of new Attorney General candidates to Baja state Congress. 

The congress members interviewed candidates, often over Zoom, and ultimately María Elena Andrade Ramírez was selected for the position.

On August 23, Andrade Ramírez was officially sworn in as the new state Attorney General. She was previously a commissioner for the state’s prison system. 

August 24, 2023

On Thursday, August 24, Baja state police (FESC) Commander Padilla was removed from his leadership position and a new commander, who is identified only as “José” or “Pepito”, was appointed to take over Padilla’s role. 

Zeta Tijuana, a local newspaper, alleges that Padilla’s removal was “requested by United States authorities, because, through their investigations, they had grown to suspect that he was involved with the CJNG.” 

Zeta Tijuana writes that US authorities reportedly “informed the [Attorney] General, and they suggested the removal [of Padilla] and an investigation into his [cartel] involvement.”

This quote is a pretty big revelation because, if true, it suggests that there is currently a surprising level of cooperation going on between Baja California officials and US authorities. 

Furthermore, if Baja officials are currently taking action based on US intelligence showing government-cartel corruption, then Attorney General Carpio’s sudden resignation may look even less flattering than it initially seemed. 

Zeta continued, writing that “according to FESC officers, as soon as the new commander was appointed, drug trafficking emissaries approached him and they put him in contact with criminals who already had agreements [with Padilla], but the young boss [José] refused” honor the existing deals between the police and the cartel group.

August 25, 2023

A man driving a Chevrolet Tracker was stopped by FESC officers while he was traveling down a road in the Otay Mesa neighborhood of Tijuana. 

The officers inspected his vehicle and inside it they found over 21 firearms, along with ammo. The man was arrested. He identified himself as Daniel Iván Machado Gálvez. He was originally from Navolato, Sinaloa and he was 40 years old at the time of his arrest.

Zeta Tijuana reports that he was transporting the guns on behalf of the CJNG.

August 26, 2023

At 1:00 am, in the dark of night, CJNG hitmen approached the home of FESC commander Jose, which is located in the Francisco Villa neighborhood of Tijuana. 

The hitmen shot at the exterior of Jose’s house, leaving the walls pocket marked with bullet holes. Punto Norte reports that no one was injured in the attack. 

The shooting was quickly reported to the police but by the time officers arrived at the scene, the hitmen had fled the area. Both Zeta Tijuana and Punto Norte reported that the shooting was perpetrated by the CJNG. 

Later that Same Day

Later that day, at approximately 5:18, CJNG hitmen left a funeral wreath and narco message which threatened Commander Jose, or “Pepito”. 

The wreath and message were placed outside a BBVA bank located in Plaza Sendero, Tijuana. The message reads as follows, as translated by Sol Prendido: 



This affair is just too much for you to handle. You’re going to be killed the fuck off. We’re going to be searching for you on land, air, and sea. You’re going to be wounded as a lost dog. You dumb ass, this job doesn’t pertain to you. 

-Mr. Mencho

“Mencho” is the alias of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, the overall leader of the CJNG.

Its unlikely that Mencho personally approved the use of his name within this message, although there’s always the slim possibility that he did.

Oftentimes top-level narco bosses tell their subordinates to refer to them through code names in narco messages. As an example, it’s said that Mayo Zambada prefers that hitmen refer to him as the “man with the sombrero”, rather than Mayo. 

August 30, 2023

An anonymous civilian called in a tip to a police phone line about two alleged CJNG hitmen who were allegedly involved in the August 26 attack on Commander Jose’s house. 

Based on the information the caller provided, officers were able to locate José Antonio “N”, and Héctor Alfredo “N”, aged 19 and 18, respectively, on Islas de Cedros street in the Lomas del Porvenir neighborhood of Tijuana. 

The officers searched the men and found that they were carrying a 9mm firearm, along with 428 grams of “what appeared to be fentanyl” tablets and 438 grams of methamphetamine. 

Diario Tijuana writes that the men were “presumably involved in an attack against a state officer which took place at dawn on Saturday, August 26.”

They added that the two men are believed to have been involved in a recent kidnapping attempt. 

According to El Imparcial, the two were known to “constantly show up on public roads bearing firearms.”