Baja armed robberies

I have to admit, I was skeptical the first time I read SurferMags story, “I’ll Never Go to Baja Again” aka Carjacked in Baja. Three surfers losing everything in Baja to a group of professional and heavily armed carjacker-thieves sounded like the truth was a bit stretched. Bribes are not unheard of, but this was a whole different ball game.

Unfortunately it seems it was all too real. The UT reports:

“Southern California surfers have reason to be especially wary about venturing to Baja California after a spate of armed robberies by paramilitary-style criminals. About a half-dozen robberies and carjackings that targeted U.S. surfers en route to camping spots along the 780-mile Baja California peninsula have occurred since June… the perpetrators fooled tourists into pulling off the road by using flashing lights similar to those mounted on police cars. These thieves forced their victims to kneel and put firearms to their heads.”

Losing your car or your wallet is one thing, but there was also one report of sexual assault during the robbery. All of the victims did not report the crime in Mexico, as they were fearful of the local police force. The general distrust of Baja cops is certainly not helped by the continuing reports of corruption. Just this week I had a coworker tell me about her brush with the TJ police over the weekend. The extortion left her shaken, and unwilling to go to Baja again (she usually goes several times a month). Baja needs to crack down on this fast, or their tourist industry will die.

The UT gives some info on reporting an assault:

– While in Mexico, flag down a police officer or dial 066 on a local phone.

– People visiting Baja California can receive help by calling the office of the region’s secretary of tourism. The hotline is 078.

– Once back in the United States, people still can report crimes that occurred in Mexico by contacting the U.S. Consulate’s office in Tijuana, which channels complaints to the appropriate Mexican agency and assists U.S. citizens with follow-up investigations. E-mail

– The San Diego Police Department, which takes courtesy reports and forwards them to the consulate’s office. Call (619) 531-2000.

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  1. I also have to think that the language/cultural difference factors into the fear. Tourists have rights that they aren’t aware of, like right to a translator when taken to a police station. Tourists need to stop giving bribes (which are likely the biggest payouts for local cops) just as the locals need to stop. They need to refuse and get taken to the delegation, request a translator, etc. The government has systems in place but people (on both sides) seem to be too lazy to take an active role. I believe this is the solution, that the people, all of us, have to take an active role against it. Even at a personal cost (time, aggravation, money, etc).

  2. I agree completely. Without people trying to work through the legal system, nothing will ever get better.

    Unfortunately a lot of the corruption I’ve heard about lately is really extortion, and not bribes – dark alleys and threats, or forced ATM withdrawals. I can’t really fault someone for being freaked out after that, and making a run for the border. But if they do take off, they really need to do a full report from the US, or the situation will continue.

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