Here is an excerpt from Richard Marosi's article in the Los Angeles Times:
"Four months after the capture of the notorious crime boss Teodoro Garcia Simental, this border city is showing glimpses of its old, vibrant self. Like survivors of a Category 5 hurricane of crime, residents are emerging from their homes, wary but hopeful. While clashes in other key drug- trafficking centers such as Juarez are reaching new heights of brutality, the uniquely savage violence that has plagued Tijuana during the government's three-year war on organized crime has declined dramatically since the January arrest. Drug-fueled crime has always cycled up and down, of course. But there are no signs that anyone of Garcia's ruthless ambition has stepped into the power void. Although homicides still occur at a steady pace, the beheadings, massacres and dissolution of victims in lye that were Garcia's terrorizing trademark have largely stopped... Government officials complain that the State Department's travel alerts are scaring off visitors. After Garcia's capture, local authorities hoped Washington would ease the warnings, but the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana issued another one, saying Garcia's arrest could trigger more violence." Link to Full Article
Analysis: I have to admit, this one has me stumped. Not because of the slowdown in violence, but because of the apparent cause. Back in January after El Teo's arrest, I was definitely concerned that violence in Tijuana would get even worse (if that was even possible) because of the power vacuum his arrest caused. I felt that El Chapo's people were more powerful than the AFO remnants left in the area, and hoped that Sinaloa faction would come in and quickly sweep away any opposition to solidify the position El Teo and his people had been carving out over the last two years.
So imagine my shock when I started getting emails from my sources in San Diego that things were suspiciously quiet in Tijuana. They knew I expected the opposite, and wanted to know if I had heard anything different. I asked them if they knew who was in charge down there now, and I was even more shocked by the answer - the AFO.
It's not often I'm stumped by these developments between DTOs, and that's not because I know everything about the drug war - I'll be the first to tell you I still learn something about it every day. It's just that these conflicts go through fairly predictable cycles and movements, and analysts like me tend to have enough information about which DTOs are in a better position to take over a plaza. So at this point I can only make an educated guess regarding why the AFO came out on top in Tijuana, resulting in hopefully more than just fleeting calm.
It could be that El Chapo has his hands full with battles on several other fronts, and just doesn't want to deal with Tijuana right now. The Federation already runs at least two other plazas along the California-Mexico border, and he may be willing to let this one go for a bit to focus on other problems. An alliance was recently formed between the Federation, the Gulf cartel, and La Familia to attempt to nip the threat posed by Los Zetas in the bud, and that may be sapping some resources. Former Federation ally and component, the Beltrán Leyva remnants, are likely linking up with their former ally, Los Zetas, in an effort to remain relevant - and profitable - which ups the stakes in that battle.
Or, it could be that El Chapo feels he's making enough money from his other plazas and doesn't need any more out of Tijuana. Nah, I didn't think so either.
Maybe I'm not giving the AFO enough credit here. But it's really hard to be optimistic about their chances, considering that DTO is in the worst shape it's ever been after two years of protracted fighting with El Teo's people. They do know the lay of the land better than the Federation's people, and still have staunch allies in some places in northern Baja. That doesn't change the fact that they're still so fractured, and have outsourced kidnappings and killings to so many gangs and thugs whose loyalties are questionable at best.
I'm truly happy that some residents of Tijuana are feeling mildly optimistic about these developments, but it's the cynic in me that says this is too good to be true. If this "Pax Mexicana" continues for maybe another 6 months to a year, I'll feel better about it. But for the time being, I'll wait for the next cycle to start.