Back to profile

Stories by Bob McPhail

TJ cops threatening to tourism?

Business owners fear resurgence of extortion

Tijuana police are at it again — stopping motorists with U.S. license plates for imaginary traffic infractions so they can extort money from visitors to the city’s struggling tourist district. "We are hoping that tourists ...

Canada issues travel warning for Mexico

"Exercise extreme caution" when traveling in Baja California

Canada has joined the United States in warning its citizens of the potential dangers they may face when visiting Mexico, with specific reference to Baja California. In an advisory posted on the home page of ...

Tijuana’s “Twin of Parisian perfume shops" closes

Sara's London Shop goes out of business after 70 years

Sara´s London Shop, a popular perfume store in downtown Tijuana that once attracted tourists from around the world, has closed its doors after 70 years in business. The store, at the corner of Avenida Revolución ...

Drone patrols over Tijuana begin today

Battery power lasts 15 to 45 minutes

Tijuana police will begin using drones to patrol crime-plagued areas of the city beginning today, January 6, according to the daily newspaper El Sol de Tijuana. The city has acquired two drones to add to ...

Adiós, zonkeys?

Animal activists want Tijuana's "zebras" replaced with statues

Tijuana's famed zonkeys — donkeys painted to look like zebras — would be permanently retired and replaced by fiberglass replicas if an international animal-rights organization gets its way. In recent years, the zonkeys have fallen ...

New Year brings new taxes in Mexico

From pet food to junk food

Baja Californians awakening today, New Year's Day, face what the daily newspaper El Mexicano describes as "a cascade of taxes." In addition to an increase in the sales tax to 16 percent, Baja Californians will ...

Pit bull kills baby in Tijuana

City records 71 dog bites so far this year, 3 of them fatal

A 37-day-old baby girl died on Wednesday, December 11, shortly after she was bitten on the head by a pit bull at her grandmother's house in Tijuana, according to newspaper accounts. The infant, identified only ...

Tijuana leads Mexico in tuberculosis cases

On average, 1000 diagnosed each year

Dr. Rafael Laniado Laborín, head of the multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis clinic at Hospital General de Tijuana, recently told El Mexicano that the clinic diagnoses an average of 1000 TB cases a year, leading Mexico in the ...

Bomb threat at Tijuana's Centro Cultural

Search yields nothing dangerous

A Thanksgiving-morning bomb scare led to the emergency evacuation of Centro Cultural Tijuana, an iconic structure in the city's Zona Río neighborhood. According to a news release from the cultural center, police received a phone ...

Tijuana strays may increase soon

Dog-food price hike may yield more than 250 weekly euthanizations

The skyrocketing cost of dog food along with new rules on its importation into Mexico have led animal advocates in Tijuana to warn of a new wave of canines abandoned in the street, adding to ...

Tijuana sells out of dollars

Brief greenback scarcity blamed on speculators

Several Tijuana casas de cambio ran out of dollars on Thursday, November 7, apparently the result of speculators betting that the value of the greenback against the Mexican peso was about to increase. Virtually all ...

Baja sales tax to jump 5% in 2014

State senate votes in favor of President Peña Nieto’s proposal

Baja Californians are bracing for what some economists and political leaders have warned will be a major financial crisis after Mexico's senate voted in the wee hours of Wednesday, October 30, to increase the state's ...

Tijuana shoplifters were looking to party

Almost a hundred bucks’ worth of meat and cheese

A pair of middle-aged shoppers ended up behind bars in Tijuana over the October 26-27 weekend after allegedly trying to shoplift what one newspaper called enough food for a small party. Under the headline "They ...

Mexicali officials bury unidentified body after 18 years

Prosecutor has prevented coroner from releasing 26 more cadavers

After 18 years under refrigeration at the medical examiner's office in Mexicali, the body of a nondescript person believed to have been the victim of some long-ago foul play was finally laid to rest yesterday, ...

Grand-scale electrical theft continues in Tijuana

They call them diablitos

An estimated 10,000 Tijuana homes and more than 1000 businesses are stealing their electricity each month from Baja California's public utility, the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (Federal Electricity Commission). "Diablitos" — the popular term for ...

Baseball bat spells the end for Tijuana neighbor

Killed over barking dogs, broken windows

A 56-year-old Tijuana man has been jailed on murder charges after allegedly beating his neighbor to death with a bat in a dispute over barking dogs. According to press accounts in El Sol de Tijuana ...

Tijuana prostitutes stray from “zone of tolerance”

Police shoo the women from Avenida Revolución

Tijuana’s downtown prostitutes are straying outside the area in which they are allowed to offer their services legally, prompting city officials to promise a crackdown on the wayward streetwalkers. According to accounts in both El ...

Threatened to cut off head of U.S. Rep. Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

Arrested walking in streets of Playas de Tijuana

Baja California police have captured a U.S. citizen on the lam from the FBI for allegedly threatening to decapitate a congresswoman from Hawaii. Agents of the fugitive unit of the Policia Estatal Preventiva (State Preventive ...

Homeless move to Tijuana’s beach

After eviction from river channel

It was just a few weeks ago that federal, state and city officials in Tijuana swept through the concrete river channel known as El Bordo and dislodged hundreds of indigents, who had made the area ...

Medicine — the healthy side of Baja tourism

Surgeries and office visits up 20 percent

About 750,000 Americans a year visit Baja California for medical care, according to Karim Chalita Rodríguez, president of a medical trade group that goes by the name of Clúster Médico Dental y Hospitalario de Baja ...

Paid parking lots may go away in Tijuana

Businessmen want to keep them

Business leaders in Tijuana say they will ask outgoing Baja California governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millán this week to veto a bill that would abolish paid parking at shopping centers. "It [paid parking] is a ...

Gloria Trevi concert expected to snarl Tijuana traffic

Event to be the climax of city’s monthlong 124th birthday party

City officials are predicting a traffic nightmare this weekend in Playas de Tijuana and surrounding neighborhoods as more than 45,000 people are expected to attend a free concert by Gloria Trevi, "the supreme diva of ...

Southern Mexicans flock to San Ysidro and Otay

Anonymous source says they seek U.S. asylum

Hundreds of Mexicans fleeing the increasingly lawless state of Michoacán have sought asylum at the San Ysidro and Otay ports of entry this week, an anonymous source has told the Baja California daily El Mexicano. ...

Tijuana Walmart construction project halted

Unauthorized dumping by contractors

Tijuana city officials have ordered a temporary halt to construction of a Walmart store in Playas de Tijuana after several community groups objected to the way contractors were disposing of debris as they cleared land ...

Close, but San Quintín won’t become a city

It looks like San Quintín won't become Baja California's newest city after all — or at least not anytime soon. Baja California governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millan has vetoed a measure that would have made ...

Tijuana officials prepare to replace Kumeyaay statue

Figure of man was sawed off and stolen in April

It will cost Tijuana about $20,000 to repair a severely damaged statue honoring an indigenous Baja California tribe, according to the city's assistant director of urban maintenance. The bronze statue dedicated to the Kumeyaay tribe ...

Tijuana offers safe transportation for women

Pink Line for elderly men, as well

The city of Tijuana this week launched a limited special municipal bus service to provide secure transportation for women traveling alone or with children and for the elderly of either gender. The pink line began ...

State Department’s recent travel advisory rankles Tijuana mayor

Deported Mexican prisoners from U.S. blamed for crime uptick

The U.S. State Department has just issued its most recent advisory for U.S. citizens contemplating travel to Baja California, prompting an angry response from Tijuana mayor Carlos Bustamante. The advisory, issued on Friday, July 12, ...

Vote recount in Baja elections changes nothing

Dominant PRI and PAN parties to share power

Despite initial claims to the contrary, it appears Baja California's July 7 elections were fair and clean — and the final vote tally seems to prove it. Over the weekend, Fernando Castro Trenti, the candidate ...

Tijuana plastic-surgery doctors tighten up image

Complications result from 20% of surgeries

In an attempt to bolster public confidence in the practice of plastic surgery in Baja California, the state's secretary of health has published a list of certified plastic surgeons on its official website, saludbc.gob.mx. The ...

San Quintín, Baja’s newest city

June 28 vote seals deal

San Quintín, a bucolic beachfront community about 185 miles south of the international border, will apparently become Baja California's sixth officially recognized municipality. By a 23-0 vote on June 28, the state legislature approved a ...

Tijuana orphanages close, children hit streets

Insufficient help from government

More children are being abandoned on the streets of Tijuana to fend for themselves because nearly half the city's orphanages have closed during the past few years, according to the director of an orphanage specializing ...

False report of gunfire at Tijuana kindergarten

Trampled child loses eye during panic

Several youngsters were injured — one seriously enough to require hospitalization — when false reports of imminent gunfire outside a Tijuana kindergarten caused parents, teachers, and children to run for cover. The incident occurred at ...

Cockfight operation shut down in Tijuana

Against the law with no government permit

Tijuana police arrested 15 people and seized 15 roosters after raiding a clandestine cockfighting ring in the city's Niño Artillero neighborhood. According to accounts in several Tijuana newspapers, officers were summoned to the scene around ...

Tijuana Bike Fest welcomed by Baja tourism secretary

Three days of rumbling at the bullring

As many as 8000 motorcyclists are expected to converge this weekend at the Plaza Monumental bullring in Playas de Tijuana for the third Tijuana Bike Fest. The three-day event is scheduled to get under way ...

Tijuana trucking disasters facilitated by residents

Land and sand co-opted out of necessity

Residents of a modest Tijuana neighborhood are as much to blame as the out-of-control tractor-trailer trucks that have repeatedly damaged or destroyed homes, wrecked cars, and claimed at least one life during the past two ...

Extreme poverty on the increase in Tijuana

Cardboard houses, one meal a day

Growing unemployment, persistent under-employment, and a steady influx of deportations from the U.S. have left the Catholic Church in Tijuana hard-pressed to meet the needs of the poor who turn to it for help, according ...

Tijuana busload of student passengers robbed at gunpoint

People trembling with fear

Three armed thieves boarded a Tijuana city bus bound for an outlying campus of the Autonomous University of Baja California on Tuesday, May 21, and robbed about 50 terrified passengers, most of them students. The ...

Bootleggers busted making bucks off Mexican Olympics

Selling items from truck with suspect documentation

Late last month, Tijuana hoteliers and restaurateurs were celebrating a respite from generally bleak economic circumstances when the Mexican National Olympics got under way in Baja California. Authorities estimated that hotel occupancy would reach 90 ...

Robbery suspect caught for Tijuana police

Perpetrator becomes victim

Angry business owners came to the rescue of the victims of a robbery in downtown Tijuana on May 15, pummeling an alleged thief on the face and head and holding him down until police arrived. ...

Tijuana curio shops struggle to stay in business

Movement to stock “higher quality” products

The once-booming curio business on Tijuana's Avenida Revolución has dwindled to a trickle as the tastes of tourists who still visit what was once known as "the most traveled avenue in the world" have shifted, ...

Churro vendor calls the law on Tijuana policeman

A stop is put to cop’s extortion racket

Tijuana police have arrested one of their own for allegedly extorting money from a woman trying to make a living by selling churros on a well-traveled public sidewalk in the eastern part of the city, ...

Explosions and fire erupt at Tijuana warehouse

No injuries in maquiladora neighborhood

A fire at a Tijuana warehouse for industrial wastes set off several small explosions and led to the evacuation of several nearby maquiladoras and a day-care center for factory workers on the afternoon of April ...

A different sort of Tijuana kidnapping

Prevented at victim’s peril?

Three Tijuana men have landed in jail on suspicion of kidnapping after they allegedly bound the hands and feet of a would-be patient and held him down in the back of a pickup en route ...

Mexican public servants watch porn on the job

Computer filters yet to be implemented

More than a third of government workers in Baja California are using their office computers to access pornography while at work, the Tijuana daily El Mexicano reports. Citing a study conducted in the Mexican state ...

Battery thieves caught in downtown Tijuana

Jeep and taxi used.

About a year ago, a good friend in Tijuana took his two young sons to a taco stand for a mid-morning meal. When he returned to his mini-van about 15 minutes later, he discovered that ...

Wallet stolen during Zona Norte tryst

American has second thoughts when faced with young teens

An American in search of some pay-for-play sex in Tijuana on Good Friday inadvertently led police to a man pimping out teenaged girls after the American's wallet was stolen by a 13-year-old prostitute. In a ...

Stolen gasoline sold from vacant lot

An anonymous tip from a caller fearing an "explosion with catastrophic consequences" led to the arrest of four men in Tijuana for allegedly storing stolen gasoline in a residential neighborhood and selling it on nearby ...

Baja California economy suffers for lack of northern visitors

Border waits partly to blame

Baja California residents spend three times more money in the U.S. than do Americans visiting south of the border, according to Armando Rogelio Lara Valle, the director of Baja California's planning and development committee. According ...

Rogue plumber caught in the act in Tijuana

Allegedly stealing meters and pipes

A man allegedly posing as an employee of the state water agency was arrested in Tijuana on Sunday, March 17, after one of his victims noted water spewing from a meter in front of his ...