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Cablegate: San Diego/Tijuana: Increased Border Violence And

VZCZCXRO1849
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #0463/01 0502157
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 192157Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0545
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MEXICO 000463

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/MEX, INR, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SNAR KCRM ECON MASS MX
SUBJECT: SAN DIEGO/TIJUANA: INCREASED BORDER VIOLENCE AND
TEAR GAS

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) On February 5, CBP and Poloff met with SRE to
discuss the issue of increased violence along the border.
CBP specifically noted that border violence problems have
increased/worsened in the Tijuana/San Diego area in the past
6 months. CBP informed SRE of the extent of collaboration
there has been with CISEN and SSP to mitigate the increasing
levels of violence. In addressing SRE's concerns about the
use of tear gas by CBP agents, CBP explained that the
decision to use tear gas canisters into Mexico was not taken
lightly and their use is employed to avoid using deadly force
options in the protection of our agents and immigrants. SRE
officials felt that they were not being informed of these
incidents before the media reported them and expressed their
desire that Mexican consuls be notified ASAP. CBP assured
GOM officials that the consuls are part of the Protocol
notification process, but agreed to review current
notification procedures to ensure that the consuls are
notified of significant incidents as promptly as feasible.
SRE agreed that violence along the border originating on the
Mexican side was unacceptable and must be stopped by Mexican
Law Enforcement. CBP noted the collaborative effort with SSP
which has been very effective so far. SRE is going to pulse
their consuls along the border to gauge whether or not they
are being notified of these incidents. They are hoping to
not only identify challenges, but best practices as well.


Increased Violence Against U.S. Border Patrol Agents...
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (U) During fiscal year (FY) 2007 there were a total of 987
incidents of violence perpetrated against U.S. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) Agents, representing an increase of
235 incidents over the FY 2006 total of 752. From October 1,
2007 to November 30, 2007, there were 210 reported incidents
of violence nationwide, representing an increase of 49% from
the 141 assaults reported for the same time period in FY 2007
and a 57% increase over the 134 assaults reported during the
same time frame in 2006.


...Mostly In the Tijuana/San Diego Area
----------------------------------------

3. (U) The San Diego Border Patrol Sector has experienced the
most violence against CBP agents along the Southwest border
since the collection and tracking of these assaults began in
FY 2006. Assaults in the San Diego Sector totaled 200 and
254 in FY 2006 and FY 2007 respectively. Compared to FY 2006
and FY 2007, the San Diego Sector has seen a dramatic
increase in assaults during the first two months of FY 2008.
As of November 30, 2007, there has been a 500% increase over
this same time period in FY 2007 (90 vs. 15) and a 53%
increase over FY 2006 (90 vs. 59).


CBP's Use of Non-Lethal Munitions
---------------------------------

4. (U) In an attempt to eradicate the assaults on CBP agents
and migrants in the area, CBP's San Diego Sector has deployed
their Special Response Teams to the area and less than lethal
munitions (i.e. tear gas grenades, pepper ball spray). They
have also retrofitted five CBP service vehicles with
rock-proactive caging. Less than lethal munitions allow CBP
agents to protect themselves and those around them from
projectile attacks, which have been a frequent occurrence in
the Colonia Libertad area. The objective of employing these
tools is to stop rock-throwers without having to resort to
deadly force. CBP has only used these defense mechanisms as
a last resort, when repeated calls to Tijuana's Police
Department have gone unanswered.


GOM and Media Reaction

MEXICO 00000463 002 OF 004


----------------------

5. (U) One particular incident in which CBP employed tear gas
as protection against rock-throwers occurred on January 12 in
the Colonia Libertad neighborhood of Tijuana. The incident
prompted negative reaction from Mexican media, the GOM, and
Mexican Congress. According to Foreign Relations Secretariat
(SRE) Diplomatic Note No. SSAN-0026 (January 15) referencing
the incident, a 15 year-old minor was struck by a tear gas
grenade and was hospitalized. (NOTE: Local Mexican
authorities confirm that the 15-year-old in question is a
repeat offender juvenile delinquent who has been observed on
several occasions throwing rocks and other objects at CBP
agents. The San Diego Mexican Consulate was informed January
16 that CBP has documentation and video of the juvenile's
actions.) The diplomatic note goes on and outlines the GOM's
concerns regarding CBP's use of these non-lethal munitions.
They note the increased use of these munitions has affected
the daily lives of Tijuana residents and on occasion has
caused damage and injury and considers their use
"unacceptable" and a violation of Mexico's national
sovereignty. SRE also calls for an investigation into the
January 12 incident and punishment for those responsible.

6. (U) Using similar language, the Permanent Commission of
the Mexican Congress passed a unique resolution on January 23
condemning the use of tear gas (or any kind of weapon) by
U.S. border authorities against Mexican citizens, "especially
on the south side of the border." The resolution encourages
SRE and the Office of the Attorney General (PGR) to solicit
an investigation from U.S. authorities into the tear gas
incident and "punish those responsible." (Note: the
resolution cites January 11 as the date of the incident. End
Note.) The resolution also considers that such incidents "do
not benefit the diplomatic and friendly relations between
Mexico and the U.S."


CBP Meets with SRE on Issue of Increased Border Violence
--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. (U) On February 5, CBP and Poloff met with SRE's Chief of
Staff for the Undersecretary for North America Enrique Rojo
and the North America division's Advisor for Special Issues
David Renato Najera Rivas to discuss the issue of increased
violence along the border and address SRE's diplomatic note.
Representatives from the Public Security Secretariat (SSP)
were also present. CBP shared the statistics outlined above
with SRE and SSP, specifically noting that border violence
problems have increased/worsened in the Tijuana/San Diego
area in the past 6 months. They noted that the Colonia
Libertad neighborhood was particularly violent with
delinquents continuously attacking CBP agents and migrants
with projectiles, to include Molotov cocktails.

8. (SBU) Rojo asked if CBP had documentation of Molotov
cocktails being launched into the U.S. from Mexico, to which
CBP replied that such evidence was captured on video. SRE
agreed that violence along the border originating on the
Mexican side was unacceptable and should be stopped by
Mexican law enforcement. They expressed serious concerns
about the use of tear gas canisters into Mexico, noting that
the public's opinion/perception is that CBP is unilaterally
attempting to enforce issues stemming on Mexican soil. Rojo
also said that the Mexican Congress views such actions as an
attack on Mexico's sovereignty because it affects Mexican
citizens in their homes and neighborhoods.

9. (SBU) In addressing SRE's concerns about the use of tear
gas by CBP agents, CBP explained that the decision to use
Tear gas grenades into Mexico was not taken lightly and their
use is employed to avoid using deadly force options in the
protection of our agents and immigrants. In the majority of
incidents over the past six months, Mexican law enforcement
has responded within 30 minutes. However, there were
incidents in which no Mexican law enforcement element
responded, which led to the deployment of less than lethal
munitions (i.e. tear gas canisters) to avoid using deadly
force options and to protect the welfare and safety of the

MEXICO 00000463 003 OF 004


CBP agents and immigrants that were being attacked.
10. (SBU) CBP also informed GOM officials that concertina
wire had been installed along some sections of the San Diego
border as a deterrent to rock/projectile throwers who often
times work in conjunction with other criminal elements (i.e.
people smugglers, drug traffickers), as well as to dissuade
potential immigrants who are often injured in the process of
"jumping the fence." CBP also explained their extent of
collaboration with CISEN and SSP to mitigate the increasing
levels of violence, which has been very effective so far.

11. (SBU) SRE inquired about the role of Mexican consuls
along the affected areas of the border; they felt that they
were not being informed of these incidents before the media
reported them and expressed their desire that their consuls
be notified ASAP. CBP assured SRE that the consuls are part
of the Protocol notification process, but agreed to review
current notification procedures to ensure that the consuls
are notified of significant incidents as promptly as
feasible. CBP explained that both U.S. and Mexican consular
notification is a high priority in CBP's notification process
for such incidents. SRE said they would pulse their consuls
along the border to gauge whether or not they are being
notified of these incidents in a timely fashion.

12. (SBU) SRE also expressed a desire that the U.S.
Department of State be involved in facilitating this
notification process and suggested a meeting of border
counsels along with CBP and Mexican law enforcement agencies
to not only identify challenges, but best practices as well.


Consulate in Tijuana Reports An Improvement
-----------------------------------------

13. (SBU) The U.S. Consulate in Tijuana is already reporting
an improvement in the Colonia Libertad area. At a January 16
meeting organized by the San Diego Mexican Consulate, the
Tijuana municipal police director made a commitment to
increase patrols in the Colonia Libertad neighborhood where
delinquents have been continuously attacking CBP agents and
migrants with projectiles. Since the patrols began, CBP has
reported fewer incidents against agents from that
neighborhood. Nevertheless, despite the possible improvement,
local media continue to criticize CBP policy of using tear
gas and tensions over the issue have not completely subsided.

Comment
-------

14. (SBU) CBP and Poloff believe that SRE would like to play
a larger role in addressing the border violence (BV) issues,
and perhaps change the venue for discussing such issues to
the Border Liaison Mechanism (BLM) (NOTE: the January 16
meeting was, in fact, a BLM-BSPS meeting), which addresses a
variety of border issues including water and wait times at
the border. CBP feels that BV issues are best addressed
through the Border Security and Public Safety (BSPS) working
groups, led by both CBP and CISEN. (Note: The BSPS working
group was created to focus on the implementation of the Plan
of Action to Combat Border Violence signed March 3, 2006.
The purpose of this working group was to increase bilateral
coordination and cooperation along our shared border. The
success of these protocols have led to the creation of
similar Border Violence and Public Safety working groups in
other areas where the levels of cross border violence have
reached all-time highs. This standard notification process
has been utilized in the San Diego/Tijuana since December of
2006. End Note.) Embassy will formally respond to SRE
Diplomatic Note No. SSAN-0026 noting that the monthly BSPS
working groups are the ideal venue to exchange valuable
information between both governments and help to mitigate the
escalating levels of violence along our joint border.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American

MEXICO 00000463 004 OF 004


Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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