U.S. Citizens Told to Avoid Tijuana as Violence Erupts, Employees Shelter

U.S. government employees in Tijuana, Mexico have been urged to shelter in place as the U.S. consulate warned of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks and other incidents early on Saturday.

"The U.S. Consulate General Tijuana is aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks, and heavy police activity in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada, and Tecate. U.S. government employees have been instructed to shelter in place until further notice," the consulate's official Twitter account said.

The consulate further advised U.S. citizens to avoid the area, seek shelter if in the area, inform their friends and families of their situation and monitor news reports for information.

Hundreds of Mexican soldiers have reportedly been sent to Ciudad Juarez near the U.S. border. Both Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez are in the Mexican state of Baja California.

The violence is believed to be linked to a conflict between two rival gangs in a Mexican prison that escalated into a riot and a shootout in Ciudad Juarez that has left 11 people dead.

Deputy security minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja said that the violence began on Thursday in Ciudad Juarez in a prison. There were clashes between Los Chapos, members of the Sinaloa Cartel, and Los Mexicles, a local group.

Los Chapos were previously led by the notorious former drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is now serving a life prison sentence in the U.S.

Tijuana Mayor Monserrat Caballero Ramírez said that at least 10 vehicles had been set on fire but he had 2,000 police officers and 3,000 National Guard troops if they were needed, according to NBC San Diego.

Around 300 Mexican troops had been due in Ciudad Juarez late on Friday.

Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda, the governor of the state of Baja California, condemned the violence in a message posted to her official Twitter account late on Friday.

"I condemn the violent events that occurred this afternoon in our state," she said.

"There are already detainees responsible for the events that occurred," the governor went on. "It is important to remain calm, we will keep you informed."

On Saturday morning, del Pilar wrote that she was working "to safeguard peace in our State."

"We will apply all the strength of our government so that there is peace and we find those responsible for these attacks," she said.

Newsweek has asked the U.S. State Department for comment.

Update 08/13/22 04.45a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to include more information.

Violence in Tijuana
Firefighters work at the scene of a burnt collective transport vehicle after it was set on fire by unidentified individuals in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on August 12, 2022. Several vehicles were set on fire on August 12 in the city. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/GETTY