Local San Felipe Drug Bust

San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

May 14, 2005

The article in this morning's LaCronica, a Mexicali newspaper, was titled Policia sorprende a los sanfelipenses. Police surprise the citizens of San Felipe.

Click photo to enlarge.
Suspected San Felipe Traffickers
Suspected Traffickers

The article went on to describe a dragnet operation that harvested thirteen people suspected of trafficking contraband. This was the result of a one and a half month surveillance of the town, aided by intelligence supplied by the State police's vehicle ownership and seat belt check-stops. The police concentrated their efforts on four colonias in San Felipe --Gavilanes, Centro, Arcos and Zona Comerical.

Seventy seven agents, twenty patrol cars, two police dogs and a helicopter were involved in yesterday's arrests. Drugs discovered on the principle perpetrator among the thirteen were 100 grams of cocaine and 30 grams of "ice" (crystal methamphetamine).

A different article in the paper listed the volume of drugs captured in various northern Baja cities and towns during the last four months. Tijuana hosted about 6 tons of police-detected contraband and 1,919 people were consequently 'detained'. Mexicali confessed to nearly 5 tons and 700 people detained. Ensenada reported a little over 4 tons and 416 people were arrested. Tecate had a modest 60 kilos and 105 people were investigated. And what of San Felipe? Three and three quarter tons of contraband were uncovered in the last four months and 34 people were arrested.

San Felipe is not a large town. Possibly 20,000 citizens, many of them seasonal. It's staggering to think that over 60% of the police-detected drug volume of Tijuana, a city of 1.2 million people (110 times the size), was found in San Felipe in a four month period. The math would suggest that if San Felipe matched Tijuana in size, the police would be uncovering 1,236 tons of contraband a year here. And since it's well known that only a small percentage of drugs actually falls into the hands of the police, the mind reels at how much is really flowing through this port town. Only recently, as reported by LaCronica, the AFI (Agencia Federal de Investigacion) discovered 142 kilos of marijuana bricks on the shores of San Felipe. There were no arrests because the packages had been abandoned.

The streets of San Felipe need to be cleaned. This diminutive port has three drug rehab centers and two AA meeting halls, the number of substance abuse facilities generally seen in towns ten times the population size. The problem here is obviously extensive and immediate. Treatment centers are ineffectual because the patient returns to the same environment that facilitated his or her problem to begin with. It is the environment that has to be cleaned, not its victims. Attacking the effects rather than the cause is a lot like believing weaponry has nothing to do with wars. Possibly it doesn't, but it certainly has something to do with casualties. Without weapon manufacturers, where would war be? Without crack labs and growing fields, where would San Felipe's drug problem be?