Mayor of Mexican border city of Tijuana to live at army base after receiving threats

FILE-Members of the National Guard patrol outside El Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico in 2022. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The mayor of the Mexican border city of Tijuana said she has decided to live at an army base for her own safety, after she received threats.

Mayor Montserrat Caballero announced the decision after confirming that police had found seven dead bodies stuffed in a pickup truck on Monday.

"I have received threats, so I am going to live at the base," Caballero said. Local media reported the army base is on the southern edge of Tijuana, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the city hall.

Caballero did not say who the threats had come from. But it is well known that several drug cartels are waging turf battles in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, California.

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the threats had been made by "organized crime groups," a term used in Mexico to refer to drug cartels. López Obrador said the same threats had been received simultaneously against the governor of the border state of Baja California, a former governor and the mayor.

López Obrador said the decision to move the mayor to the army base had been made about two weeks ago, "to protect her," though he did not offer any more details on the threats.

Killings in Tijuana have risen by about 9% in the last 12 months, according to the federal public safety department. Tijuana has more homicides that any other city in Mexico, with 1,818 killings in the 12-month period ending in May.

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Caballero has acknowledged the cartels’ strong presence in the past. In 2022, after gangs carjacked and burned at least 15 vehicles throughout the city, Caballero made a direct public appeal to stop targeting civilians.

"Today we are saying to the organized crime groups that are committing these crimes, that Tijuana is going to remain open and take care of its citizens," Caballero said in a video in 2022, adding "we also ask them to settle their debts with those who didn’t pay what they owe, not with families and hard-working citizens."