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11-23-07, 12:50 AM #1
Race Crewman Reports Latest Baja Robbery
By Anna Cearley and Bill Center
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS
November 22, 2007
The violent robbery of an American family in Baja California early Monday morning is adding to concerns about safety south of the border.
The latest attack began about 1 a.m. when Chris Hall, his wife, Debra, and their 16-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter where driving home to El Cajon from the SCORE Baja 1000 off-road auto race, which ended Friday in Cabo San Lucas.
Hall said their 2007 Ford F-250 was pulled over by a black car with flashing red and blue lights and a siren as they traveled on the coastal road just south of the Playas de Tijuana toll booth. A second car blocked the path in front of them.
Hall, 42, is a truck driver and crewman who supports off-road racers. He was pulling an empty car trailer after assisting the race team of Andy McMillin, whose family is one of San Diego County's biggest home developers. The trailer was identified with McMillin's race insignia.
I think they knew what they were doing, Hall said of the assailants. If I had been a McMillin, I think they would have kidnapped me.
The assailants took the wheel of the Halls' truck, held the family at gunpoint for two hours, and then released them at a secluded spot on a mountain, Hall said.
The men stole the truck and all of the family's belongings, Hall said. It took the Halls more than an hour to walk down the mountain and find help. Mexican police took them immediately to the border.
The Halls filed a report yesterday with Mexican authorities. Chris Hall estimated the family's personal loss at $70,000. But we're alive and I didn't think we were going to be . . . I'm counting my blessings.
The attack was the latest in a series that has put frequent Baja travelers on edge.
Stories of at least six armed assaults have been shared by travelers through the Internet and by word of mouth. Some, but not all, of the cases have been determined by authorities as credible.
One widely publicized attack Aug. 31 involved a group of North County surfers who were stopped by a convoy of armed men who used flashing lights to pull them over on the road between the San Ysidro border crossing and Playas de Tijuana.
The surfers were forced out of their vehicles at gunpoint, and one was ordered to kneel and crawl as if he were going to be executed. The gunmen took the surfers' two trucks and other equipment.
In another publicized case, Pat Weber of Encinitas and his girlfriend were robbed Oct. 23 by two men wearing military clothing and ski masks at Cuatro Casas, a surfing spot about 200 miles south of the border. The assailants shot at his motor home and sexually assaulted his girlfriend before stealing $10,000 worth of computers, video cameras and other gear.
Baja California tourism officials didn't return phone calls yesterday asking about Monday's attack. But last month officials with the state attorney general's office in Baja California said they were working with other agencies to beef up patrols along the roads tourists often use to get to and from the border.
They urged victims to report such crimes immediately, but some victims have been afraid of file reports because they don't trust Mexican law enforcement officers.
Three people recently contacted The San Diego Union-Tribune to report being robbed by Tijuana police officers near the San Ysidro border crossing over the past six weeks.
Their complaints come amid speculation in the Mexican media that extortion and other misdeeds by police have increased recently because of an anticipated crackdown once Tijuana's new mayor, Jorge Ramos, takes office Dec. 1.
Authorities are unsure whether the latest accounts about attacks against tourists reflect an increase in attacks or that more people are sharing their stories with reporters or on Internet sites.
Robert Fishman, director of administration for the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, said he was robbed of more than $500 in cash by a group of Mexican police officers Oct. 13 after leaving a Caliente sports gaming site. He said the officers stopped him on a dark section of the pedestrian bridge that leads to the San Ysidro border crossing around 10 p.m. and searched his wallet and pockets. After they let him go, he realized the money was missing.
Fishman filed a report with the San Diego Police Department, which forwards the information to the U.S. Consulate in Mexico. However, he said the case appeared stymied because he couldn't see the officers' faces.
Fishman said he does not plan to go back to Baja California.
Hall is more adamant.
I'm the person who has always dispelled the rumors about being hassled in Baja California, he said. I have always loved the country and the people. . . . Before this year, we had never had a problem, only great memories. But I'm never going back.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
11-23-07, 02:57 PM #2
Seems a lot more of these stories are popping up.
Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway
The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com
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