Tijuana’s new police chief ushered in his first day in his new position with a severed head sent to him as a threat by a local drug cartel. The head, found decomposing in a black plastic bag on the street, contained a message that described Chief Rafael Vázquez as a “kidnapper who takes orders from the Sinaloa Cartel.” They further threatened that “Tijuana will bleed because of that kidnapper.”
- The drug cartel didn’t stop there. While a severed head and a stark message sound serious enough, more messages were found the next night at two other points in the city that expressed similar threats. This time, however, instead of a human head, the messages were found with what seemed to be animal meat.
- The messages are believed to be from a rival of the Sinaloa Cartel. Tijuana is one of the major hubs for drug trafficking to the United States, and the cartels aren’t afraid to kill to keep their business alive. Tijuana is also one of the top 10 most violent cities in the world. According to local media, the messages sent to Chief Vázquez are believed to be one of the Sinaloa Cartel’s rivals.
- Vázquez hasn’t publicly acknowledged the threats. However, the city’s mayor, Monserrat Caballero, said she supports the chief in a press conference. She said: “If there are threats, then it’s about his work, and for me that is an indication that the crooks are afraid.”
- The chief has faced similar controversy back in 2017. Vázquez has been a police officer for 19 years, and back in 2017, a banner was hung from a bridge that accused him and a fellow officer of “collaborating with the Sinaloa Cartel, for whom they clear a path and are also dedicated to extortion, theft, and abuse of authority.” Two years later, he was accused of selling positions in the force and other crimes like torture and theft. However, no formal charges have ever been brought against him.