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The glamour and crime of Tijuana

Club Campestre abduction, cross-border prostitution, Russian-owned gym, TJ's new night scene

Cabana Boy and Barbarella at Cinepolis V.I.P.  Large silver columns rose to meet sweeping curves and lines of the ceiling — a modern, contemporary design, backlit with soft blue lighting.  - Image by David Fokos
Cabana Boy and Barbarella at Cinepolis V.I.P. Large silver columns rose to meet sweeping curves and lines of the ceiling — a modern, contemporary design, backlit with soft blue lighting.
  • Don't look now

  • Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult not to stare at ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns. Under normal circumstances, ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns would be the sort of thing that caught a person's eye. Around 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at the entrance to Club Campestre, Tijuana's country club, while young mothers ushered their children to tennis and swimming lessons, ten men dressed in black, brandishing submachine guns, swarmed the club's entrance and abducted 34-year-old Ivan Escobosa.
  • By Abe Opincar, Feb. 2, 2006
Francisco Ortiz Franco dead inside his car (Alejandro Cossio/Zeta)
  • Greetings from Tijuana

  • A mile east of the Tijuana International Airport is an area police call El Fin del Mundo, the End of the World, where drug-cartel assassins dump their victims. Both Mexican and American citizens have been found there. On December 18, 2004, according to Sergeant Tom Bulow of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, San Marcos resident Noé Chávez García was lured to Tijuana by two acquaintances who shot him several times and left him in this corpse-disposal zone.
  • By Michael Hemmingson, Aug. 6, 2008
September 24, 2007 — "Gunmen fire automatic weapons from several vehicles, attacking a post manned by federales in the Francisco Villa neighborhood. The metal fence of a nearby school is destroyed by the storm of bullets."
  • The Tijuana of my heart and soul

  • Why Tijuana? That’s what everybody asks me these days. I know. These days, the headlines about Tijuana feature murder, mayhem, and misery. But here’s the thing. These days, when nobody’s going to Tijuana, wouldn’t you know it? I can’t help thinking about Tijuana…
  • By Ed Bedford, Nov. 11, 2009
“We’re all poor-but-proud expatriates here. I just cannot afford to live in America. Here we get million-dollar ocean views, and at ver-ry reasonable rentals, darling.”
  • Reina's Story

  • In April 2001, 15-year-old Reina was leaving her home in Tenancingo, a high-plateau town west of Mexico City. She was happier than she’d been in a while, traveling north to Tijuana, in the company of Arturo López-Rojas. At 32, Arturo was nicely dressed, heavy, and short, barely five feet tall; Reina, with a pretty round face, was shorter by several inches. Arturo was taking her to the border crossing at San Diego to get her into the United States.
  • By Thomas Larson, Aug. 7, 2003
Aerial view of strawberry field prostitution site, Carlsbad, a long ditch with cardboard shacks covered in brush named Las Fresas.
  • Tijuana Muscle

  • "This gym, NeoSpa, opened in 1988. It was started by a Russian group that came to Tijuana. They came up with the name and made the original investment. They also opened a disco and a health clinic -- a laser clinic. They never paid their rent. They defaulted on the rent for about a year. In 1989, they disappeared. "I believe they were from Moscow. I heard a few rumors about them, but I never found out if the rumors were true. They did have a Cuban lawyer. For as flashy as they appeared at first, in the end they disappeared/
  • By Abe Opincar, Sept. 29, 2005
"One of the most difficult eating habits to break is refried beans. And here, especially in Tijuana, there's a taco shop on every corner."
  • A Tijuana Better Than In My Memory

  • Any kid who reaches the age of 18 in San Diego knows about the endless clubs of Tijuana offering cheap beer and margaritas to those young adults who are old enough to die for their country but not to drink in it. We followed the masses of military boys and college girls to Avenida Revolución, where bars blasting everything from techno music to the Beastie Boys were set next door to each other.
  • By Barbarella Fokos, Aug. 25, 2005
Balak welcomes anywhere from 1500 to 1800 drinkers and dancers. "People come here from all over northern Mexico."
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Cabana Boy and Barbarella at Cinepolis V.I.P.  Large silver columns rose to meet sweeping curves and lines of the ceiling — a modern, contemporary design, backlit with soft blue lighting.  - Image by David Fokos
Cabana Boy and Barbarella at Cinepolis V.I.P. Large silver columns rose to meet sweeping curves and lines of the ceiling — a modern, contemporary design, backlit with soft blue lighting.
  • Don't look now

  • Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult not to stare at ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns. Under normal circumstances, ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns would be the sort of thing that caught a person's eye. Around 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at the entrance to Club Campestre, Tijuana's country club, while young mothers ushered their children to tennis and swimming lessons, ten men dressed in black, brandishing submachine guns, swarmed the club's entrance and abducted 34-year-old Ivan Escobosa.
  • By Abe Opincar, Feb. 2, 2006
Francisco Ortiz Franco dead inside his car (Alejandro Cossio/Zeta)
  • Greetings from Tijuana

  • A mile east of the Tijuana International Airport is an area police call El Fin del Mundo, the End of the World, where drug-cartel assassins dump their victims. Both Mexican and American citizens have been found there. On December 18, 2004, according to Sergeant Tom Bulow of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, San Marcos resident Noé Chávez García was lured to Tijuana by two acquaintances who shot him several times and left him in this corpse-disposal zone.
  • By Michael Hemmingson, Aug. 6, 2008
September 24, 2007 — "Gunmen fire automatic weapons from several vehicles, attacking a post manned by federales in the Francisco Villa neighborhood. The metal fence of a nearby school is destroyed by the storm of bullets."
  • The Tijuana of my heart and soul

  • Why Tijuana? That’s what everybody asks me these days. I know. These days, the headlines about Tijuana feature murder, mayhem, and misery. But here’s the thing. These days, when nobody’s going to Tijuana, wouldn’t you know it? I can’t help thinking about Tijuana…
  • By Ed Bedford, Nov. 11, 2009
“We’re all poor-but-proud expatriates here. I just cannot afford to live in America. Here we get million-dollar ocean views, and at ver-ry reasonable rentals, darling.”
  • Reina's Story

  • In April 2001, 15-year-old Reina was leaving her home in Tenancingo, a high-plateau town west of Mexico City. She was happier than she’d been in a while, traveling north to Tijuana, in the company of Arturo López-Rojas. At 32, Arturo was nicely dressed, heavy, and short, barely five feet tall; Reina, with a pretty round face, was shorter by several inches. Arturo was taking her to the border crossing at San Diego to get her into the United States.
  • By Thomas Larson, Aug. 7, 2003
Aerial view of strawberry field prostitution site, Carlsbad, a long ditch with cardboard shacks covered in brush named Las Fresas.
  • Tijuana Muscle

  • "This gym, NeoSpa, opened in 1988. It was started by a Russian group that came to Tijuana. They came up with the name and made the original investment. They also opened a disco and a health clinic -- a laser clinic. They never paid their rent. They defaulted on the rent for about a year. In 1989, they disappeared. "I believe they were from Moscow. I heard a few rumors about them, but I never found out if the rumors were true. They did have a Cuban lawyer. For as flashy as they appeared at first, in the end they disappeared/
  • By Abe Opincar, Sept. 29, 2005
"One of the most difficult eating habits to break is refried beans. And here, especially in Tijuana, there's a taco shop on every corner."
  • A Tijuana Better Than In My Memory

  • Any kid who reaches the age of 18 in San Diego knows about the endless clubs of Tijuana offering cheap beer and margaritas to those young adults who are old enough to die for their country but not to drink in it. We followed the masses of military boys and college girls to Avenida Revolución, where bars blasting everything from techno music to the Beastie Boys were set next door to each other.
  • By Barbarella Fokos, Aug. 25, 2005
Balak welcomes anywhere from 1500 to 1800 drinkers and dancers. "People come here from all over northern Mexico."
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