Police Chief Receives Severed Head From Drug Cartel on First Day of Work

A drug cartel reportedly sent a severed head to a Tijuana police chief on his first day on the job.

Chief Rafael Vázquez Hernández received the gruesome delivery on October 5, Vice reported. According to the outlet, the head "was found decomposing inside a black plastic bag left in the street beside a message."

The message accused Vázquez Hernández of being a "kidnapper" working with the Sinaloa Cartel.

"Tijuana will bleed because of that kidnapper," the message reportedly read.

ZETA Tijuana reported that two additional threats were found in the city the following night.

The website of investigative journalism group InSight Crime described the Sinaloa Cartel as the "largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere." One of the cartel's most infamous leaders was Joaquín Guzmán Loera — "El Chapo" — who led the cartel until 2017 when he was extradited to the U.S. on drug trafficking charges.

The cartel has managed to "corrupt" many high-ranking officials, who help cartel members "maintain the upper hand against rivals," InSight Crime continued.

In January 2020, a former Mexican Federal Police officer and commander of the Mexican Federal Police's Sensitive Investigative Units (SIU), Ivan Reyes Arzate, was arrested for allegedly helping the Sinaloa Cartel traffic cocaine into the United States, said the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a press release.

Other former high-ranking law enforcement officers accused of working with the cartel included Genaro Garcia Luna, Luis Cardenas Palomino, and Ramon Pequeno Garcia, the DOJ said.

Vázquez Hernández has not publicly commented on the claims made against him. However, Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero Ramírez did address the threat.

"If there are threats in relation to his job I see it as an indication these thugs feel threatened," the mayor said, according to Border Report. "They left a message of fear, but this message only confirms who they are.

"They claim to be decent and they leave a skinned body part? It doesn't deserve more than our efforts to keep working to fortify all of our correct actions," she continued.

The mayor also explained that Vázquez Hernández was thoroughly vetted for the job.

In July, Border Report said that Tijuana was once again "on track to be named the most dangerous city in the world." Data from the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice revealed that nearly six people are killed every day in the city.

"The group states that the main reasons behind this violence are human trafficking and drug trades by different gangs," stated Border Report.

Last week, a drug cartel sent a severed head and a threat to Tijuana’s new police chief. Oleksandr Filon/iStock