In what amounts to the largest marijuana seizure in Mexican history, state police from Baja California and military operatives found 134 tons and 240 kilos of the drug in three separate operations carried out in Tijuana, reports Sinaloan daily El Noroeste.
Despite a brief gunfight between the military and cartel agents in the Tijuana neighborhood of Murua, there were no reports of casualties, and officials detained a total of eleven men in association with the shipment. According to government spokesperson Alejandro Poiré, the massive load likely belonged to the Sinaloa cartel, headed by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo.”
Two days after the seizure, state officials held an elaborate ceremony complete with a military band, celebratory speeches and ample media coverage, all to commemorate the incineration of the seized marijuana. At the ceremony, Guillermo Galván Galván, Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense, framed the operation as a “success of the country’s policies against organized crime.”
This statement comes only weeks after Human Rights Watch published a letter to President Calderón denouncing his administration’s anti-drug policies in Tijuana as “anything but a model for an effective public security operation.” These conflicting reports illustrate how much the city just across the border from San Diego serves as a bellwether for Calderón’s counter-narcotics strategy in recent months, with analysts on both sides using it as a case study for the country’s larger war on drugs.