Former Tijuana police officers posing as fake cops

Former Tijuana police officers posing as fake cops

June 11, 2019– Mary Greeley News – About 10 people have been arrested for crimes they committed while posing as police in their former Municipal Police uniforms between January 2019 and May 2019, according to the Tijuana police.

Fake police officers have been wearing real Tijuana police uniforms and illegally offering their security services to merchants throughout the city or committing more serious crimes, the city’s top law enforcement official warned Monday.

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Some of the fake police officers are former members of the real police department, using their old uniforms, and some have possible ties to organized crime, according to Secretary of Municipal Public Security Marco Sotomayor.

Sotomayor said it is a “very strong” problem that must be addressed immediately because it could erode the public trust in the real Tijuana municipal police department, which has itself struggled with maintaining the public’s confidence during the past two decades.

“We have been systematically detaining them but we’ve found them operating in all parts of the city in the El Lago industrial park, in Plaza del Zapato, Plaza Fiesta, and just yesterday we stopped one in Plaza Rio,” said Sotomayor, who added the department’s investigation is zeroing in on the organization’s leader.

“We have information on who is commanding them,” he said.

The former and fake police officers have created an illegal “private security firm,” calling themselves auxiliary police and charging merchants for protection. They have an official office, fake documents and badges, and auxiliary police uniforms.

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Making the situation even more confusing, the City of Tijuana did at one time operate an auxiliary police agency to protect commercial businesses from crime. The auxiliary police officers were unarmed and worked almost like licensed security guards at private commercial businesses that were vulnerable to being targeted by cartel or drug violence. That public agency is now defunct.

The false police officers do not have any license or permission to be working in the city, said Sotomayor. He said a business hiring the fake auxiliary police officers could be putting themselves in more danger.

“This is a very serious problem and phenomenon not just for the security of the city but the confidence of the public,” he said.

Many Tijuana residents already do not trust the police, viewing them largely as either inefficient or corrupt.

Hugo Flores lives in Los Angeles but often visits Tijuana.

“I don’t have too much confidence in the police here,” said Flores. “I think it’s getting a little better but I still see the locals don’t have a lot of trust in them.”

Former Tijuana police officers posing as fake cops

During the last 10 years, that reputation has been somewhat repaired after former Tijuana police chief Julian Leyzaola helped the department purge officers suspected of corruption between 2008 and 2010.

Still, police in Tijuana make a very low salary compared to the job they do, making them easily susceptible to bribes or corruption from organized crime.

According to the National Survey of Occupation and Employment, the average wage for a municipal officer in Baja California is about 66 pesos or $3.44 an hour. Most officers earn around $166 dollars a week, working an average of about 48 hours a week.

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One Tijuana police officer, who was not authorized to give her name for security reasons, said often the hours are longer, especially with recent spikes in violent crime.

“Twelve hours a day and twelve hours a night. We start at 6 in the morning and leave at 6 in the evening. Our one day off, we usually spend it asleep because we are so tired,” said the police officer. “It’s difficult for our families. We don’t get to spend a lot of time with them.”

She said the hardest days are the holidays, which they often don’t get to take off.

“The pay is very low for the situation we are in. When we leave our houses, we don’t know if we will come back,” said the officer.

Between January 2019 and May 2019, about 10 people were arrested for crimes they committed while posing as police, according to the Tijuana police. Sotomayor said security guards have a training and licensing process in Tijuana, which this criminal group is not completing.

According to Tijuana police, there are 220 private security firms who are authorized to operate in Baja California. Police recommend people to check the website of www.seguridadbc.gob.mx for the list of companies that are authorized to offer private security services.

Mary Greeley News
www.marygreeley.com

credit: In part with https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/border-baja-california/story/2019-06-10/former-tijuana-police-officers-pose-as-fake-cops