Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Tijuana’s chocolate-car problem

Authorities target autos with illegal or no documentation

Checkpoint protester
Checkpoint protester

Since mid-July, Servicio de Administración Tributaria — SAT, Mexico's rough equivalent of the IRS — and Tijuana police have set up checkpoints in areas of the city to capture so-called “chocolate cars” — cars from model year 2008 or newer with California or foreign plates without proper documentation.

Children in Mexico, when playing soccer or any sort of game, often designate certain players de chocolate or de chicle, meaning that they don't really count as real players but can still play the game (usually someone's little brother). This is the term being used for cars in Mexico that are not registered in the country, most of them with California plates.

Article 3.4.7 of Mexican border law states that “as long as vehicles are owned by residents from a foreign country, they can be driven around in national territory limited to 20 kilometers from the border and the border region, as long as they have all the proper documentation.”

Gilberto Levya Camacho, president of CANACO (Mexico’s national chamber of commerce), led the charge of pressuring the government to get rid of “chocolate cars.” He mentioned that former Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s raising of importation fees in 2007 led to the number of vehicles imported illegally.

Importation fees vary, depending on the vehicle, and some cars don't qualify for importation. Most cars made before 2008 cost about $1000 to import, but newer models can cost much more.

There are over 250,000 chocolate cars in Baja California, 150,000 in Tijuana alone, according to La Cronica. A quick survey by a bystander suggests that half of the vehicles in Tijuana have foreign plates.

“If a percentage of the population pays their license and importation fees, then the rest of the population has to,” Tijuana mayor Jorge Astiazarán told Frontera.

The main concern is that the cars have been used to commit crimes and then abandoned, leaving no trace of paperwork.

It did not take long for social media groups to begin reporting the locations of checkpoints. “Retenes Tijuana-Alcoholímetro” (which has over 45,000 members) had been strictly an alcohol-checkpoint alert group before the chocolate-car crackdown. “AntiSAT retenes Tijuana aviso” is another group reporting the location of checkpoints. They share information, try to answer questions about the new law, and even record and post pictures of police officers and city officials driving their own chocolate cars. The hashtag #TodosSomosChocolate was created to unite citizens rebelling against the new law.

The group demands lower importation fees and for the random checkpoints to be eliminated. They also blame the government for letting illegal car dealerships operate around the city and for targeting citizens instead of business owners who bribe police so they can continue operating.

After three weeks of checkpoints, there's no official number of cars that have been impounded. Gilberto Levya Camacho mentions that the real problem is in illegal car dealerships but says they don't have enough manpower for enforcement. He also mentioned that no car models before 2005 have been impounded.

“We are trying to protect humble people and we are asking for the government to pardon certain cars after a socioeconomic study or see other options to help,” concluded Camacho. 

Checkpoints will reportedly be set up in Mexicali next, but no dates or more information was given.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Don't forget Escondido

We're still spaying cats in San Diego
Next Article

Terra Lawson-Remer out-raises Kristin Gaspar

San Diego State not ready for emergency
Checkpoint protester
Checkpoint protester

Since mid-July, Servicio de Administración Tributaria — SAT, Mexico's rough equivalent of the IRS — and Tijuana police have set up checkpoints in areas of the city to capture so-called “chocolate cars” — cars from model year 2008 or newer with California or foreign plates without proper documentation.

Children in Mexico, when playing soccer or any sort of game, often designate certain players de chocolate or de chicle, meaning that they don't really count as real players but can still play the game (usually someone's little brother). This is the term being used for cars in Mexico that are not registered in the country, most of them with California plates.

Article 3.4.7 of Mexican border law states that “as long as vehicles are owned by residents from a foreign country, they can be driven around in national territory limited to 20 kilometers from the border and the border region, as long as they have all the proper documentation.”

Gilberto Levya Camacho, president of CANACO (Mexico’s national chamber of commerce), led the charge of pressuring the government to get rid of “chocolate cars.” He mentioned that former Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s raising of importation fees in 2007 led to the number of vehicles imported illegally.

Importation fees vary, depending on the vehicle, and some cars don't qualify for importation. Most cars made before 2008 cost about $1000 to import, but newer models can cost much more.

There are over 250,000 chocolate cars in Baja California, 150,000 in Tijuana alone, according to La Cronica. A quick survey by a bystander suggests that half of the vehicles in Tijuana have foreign plates.

“If a percentage of the population pays their license and importation fees, then the rest of the population has to,” Tijuana mayor Jorge Astiazarán told Frontera.

The main concern is that the cars have been used to commit crimes and then abandoned, leaving no trace of paperwork.

It did not take long for social media groups to begin reporting the locations of checkpoints. “Retenes Tijuana-Alcoholímetro” (which has over 45,000 members) had been strictly an alcohol-checkpoint alert group before the chocolate-car crackdown. “AntiSAT retenes Tijuana aviso” is another group reporting the location of checkpoints. They share information, try to answer questions about the new law, and even record and post pictures of police officers and city officials driving their own chocolate cars. The hashtag #TodosSomosChocolate was created to unite citizens rebelling against the new law.

The group demands lower importation fees and for the random checkpoints to be eliminated. They also blame the government for letting illegal car dealerships operate around the city and for targeting citizens instead of business owners who bribe police so they can continue operating.

After three weeks of checkpoints, there's no official number of cars that have been impounded. Gilberto Levya Camacho mentions that the real problem is in illegal car dealerships but says they don't have enough manpower for enforcement. He also mentioned that no car models before 2005 have been impounded.

“We are trying to protect humble people and we are asking for the government to pardon certain cars after a socioeconomic study or see other options to help,” concluded Camacho. 

Checkpoints will reportedly be set up in Mexicali next, but no dates or more information was given.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

North Park – the prime quartier

30th Street parking, Georgia Street bridge, PSA crash, water tower, North Park Main Street
Next Article

Don't forget Escondido

We're still spaying cats in San Diego
Comments
2

I have an idea... we can work to keep these "chocolate cars" north of the border, and they can work to keep millions of their citizens south of the border! Can we shake on it?

Aug. 4, 2014

So what is happening to all the cars confiscated? Resold? Are CHP/American insurance companies allowed access to the record to see if any were stolen in the U.S.?

Aug. 4, 2014

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close