Tijuana, Mexico, Aug 13 (EFE).- Hours of terror that saw 28 vehicles – including buses – set ablaze here and in other cities of the Mexican state of Baja California were the work of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, authorities said Saturday.
Security forces responding to reports of crimes arrested 17 suspects in Tecate, Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito, Mexicali and Ensenada, the state public safety office said.
The mayor of Tijuana, a metropolis of 2 million people just across the border from San Diego, California, told reporters that the army informed her and other officials in the state that the rampage which began Friday afternoon was a reaction to the arrest of a crime boss in another state.
“But what I say to citizens is that we live here. I care about Tijuana. Whatever bad things are happening in other places, but we will protect Tijuana,” Montserrat Caballero said.
Her counterpart in nearby Ensenada, Armando Ayala, said that the Jalisco Cartel has a presence throughout Baja California and announced an agreement with the army for an additional 350 soldiers to be deployed in the state.
Tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, private cars and buses were commandeered and set ablaze.
Seventeen of the 28 incidents took place in Tijuana, where the vandalism prompted a shutdown of the bus service and the closure of many shops, restaurants and bars.
The streets of Tijuana were empty Saturday morning, though activity returned as the day wore on.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the driver of one of the burned buses in Tijuana told Efe that two men who boarded his unit on a main thoroughfare asked to get off as he approached the city center.
When the bus stopped, the men pulled out pistols and ordered everyone off at gunpoint.
“They didn’t give me a change to grab anything and when I got off they were already setting the bus on fire. Two colleagues arrived and one gave me a fire extinguisher,” the driver recounted. “The two men got in a car and left. I was scared because I didn’t know what was happening.”
Some of the many commuters left stranded by the abrupt halt to bus service got help from motorists who offered to ferry them to their destinations, while other public-spirited citizens opened their homes. EFE ma/dr