Sunday, December 02, 2007

Baja Bites SCORE Racers Hit Widespread Crime Baja Crime Wave Report 9



40th Annual Baja 1000 will be remembered
by the widespread criminal victimization
and felony gloss-over by SCORE International.





Another glowing statement of support for the racers who risk their skins in Mexico:
Sal Fish was quoted, “I'm personally upset and have sympathy for anyone who had any problem. But some of these things can happen anywhere. There are precautions we all have to take.” Baja Racing responds: 'Some of these things can happen anywhere'? An Incredible Statement. The Tijuana to San Quentin corridor is so dangerous for high-profile tourists, private security is needed to protect their interests. During SCORE races, when travel schedules are made public and large, visible vehicles are on the road alone, paramilitary criminal elements can cherry-pick their victims. During this Baja 1000, these elements are now acting as though they have no fear of the laws of the Republic of Mexico, nor its legal servants, the police or Mexican Peoples Army.

Such a comment, as noted above, by Sal Fish, ditches racers.


December 5, 2007


Patrols to be added on Baja toll road

"TIJUANA – In response to attacks on American tourists, Baja California's coastal toll road will have round-the-clock patrols from all levels of government, said the state's new public security secretary, Daniel De La Rosa Anaya.Speaking yesterday after a closed meeting with tourism and real estate development representatives from the area, De La Rosa said security units from the federal government and coastal municipalities will supplement patrols currently handled by state police and the federal assistance force called Angeles Verdes, or Green Angels.“This should clearly help the security situation,” he said.De La Rosa said communications systems also will be improved. The meeting was held at the urging of tourism businesses, which have seen tourism dip in the wake of several attacks on U.S. citizens driving along the Baja California toll road that stretches 65 miles from Tijuana to Ensenada.Paramilitary-style criminals driving vehicles with flashing lights and sirens carried out some of the armed assaults.No attacks have been reported since they received widespread publicity in the media, said Nico Saad, director of the Ensenada Tourism Board.“I feel good about the meeting,” he said later. “Actions are going to be taken by the governor and the mayors. They are going to do whatever they need to, to cool this off.”Although he didn't attend the meeting, Saad said tourism representatives from Ensenada, Rosarito Beach and Tijuana requested that additional steps be taken to safeguard visitors from the United States. Among the suggestions were that: Mexican President Felipe Calderon take an active role in the effort to capture the perpetrators. The color of police cars be changed so they can easily be identified.Better lighting be installed on the toll road and its exits.Roadside emergency phones be staffed around the clock instead of merely during the day.“We need that highway to have all the modern security available,” Saad said."

Baja Racing responds: JUST THE TOLL-ROAD. Far too little, way too late. Baja California tourism is already in the shitter.


"Monday, December 3, 2007
A spate of recent reports in the US press about carjackings, highway robberies and violent crime in Baja California, Mexico is threatening to destroy tourism. Over Thanksgiving weekend, few visitors arrived in Baja California and major tourist destinations were empty. Negative reports about Baja California crime are all over the Internet, with most people saying that they are sick of everything about Mexico and will never travel there again. Tourism officials are currently conducting emergency meetings, and they are expected to make a public announcement within a week. But it is simple to predict what the officials are going to say. They will claim that the crime wave was a brief aberration, measures have been taken, and the problem has now been solved. Believe that story at your peril. Although the current crime wave has only now been reported by the US press, actually these violent attacks on tourists have been occurring at least since last summer. The reports currently coming out in San Diego are not necessarily new incidents. Some of them happened last August or September, when the last wave of carjackings hit the Baja California toll roads. The problem settled down in September and October, and then started up again with a vengeance in November. There was also a rash of attacks and carjackings in August of 2006, but that one was covered up more effectively and most people have forgotten about it. But, "Baja 1000" car racers have not forgotten the murder of Duane Curtis on a lonely beach last year during the 2006 race. That memory is probably what prompted them to arrive late at the race this year, leave early, and report all crimes to the US press.Again, these incidents are nothing new, but the tourists and sportsmen are fed up with them and finally going public. Covering up incidents of crime against American tourists has long been a basic goal for Baja California officials and real estate leaders. [And SCORE and race-******.com] When a Baja California tourism e-newsletter recently reprinted one of the crime articles, real estate and tourism officials sent emails to the webmaster arguing that circulating such information was an act of "negativity." The Gringo Gazette North, an English language newspaper in Baja California, first reported the carjacking problems last September and received aggressive criticism for doing so. Leaders and officials prefer to deny reports, ignore the truth, and lean on the local media to kill the story. They do nothing about the problem until the US press starts to report it.Now the officials are in full PR and damage control mode. They will trot out an old script that they have read to the US press before, saying that there will now be a safe, "no-shakedown" corridor in the tourist zone. That story is an old yarn that sounds good in press announcements, but has never actually been implemented. They will also say that the crime wave was a temporary phenomenon associated with the change in government administration, a claim that is disproved by the actual dates of the crimes. They will then dramatically unveil new anti-crime initiatives, measures that have been tried before and have never worked in the past. The idea is to convince the American newspapers to report that safety programs are in place, the problem is solved, and Baja California is now safe for tourists.

The Baja California officials genuinely would like to believe their own claims, but in reality crime is out of their control.

The carjackings are not being committed by ordinary criminals, the perpetrators are armed commando squads affiliated with drug cartels. Local, state and federal authorities do not have adequate resources to fight the "Men in Black." The only action that has ever successfully decreased Baja California crime is federal intervention by the Mexican military, and a tourism protection initiative proposed by business leaders is not going to solve the problem. In the past, drug crime in Baja California did not affect tourists or the American community as much. Previously, the shootings and kidnappings seemed to be directed at police or drug dealers, and Americans were largely unaffected.

Now however, the new carjacking methodology does specifically target Americans, especially naive tourists. An unmarked vehicle, usually a pick up or SUV, flashes police lights and sirens at a car with California plates driving on the toll road. Believing that the car is a police cruiser, the American pulls over to the side of the road and is attacked by armed commandos. Anyone with a sharp eye can learn to identify these vehicles with the lights and sirens, and will soon realize that many of these cars roam the streets, sometimes in caravans. This is a new phenomenon that has emerged over the last year, one that represents a serious threat to American tourists as well as Mexico's important tourism industry."

Baja Racing has been informed by solid sources that these facts have been related on numerous occasions to f****d a message board over the last year, only to have posts deleted, threads deleted and these users banned from the board! Much of this info over the last year was ignored, ridiculed and the usual response, Banned. La Familia, B-S!

December 1, 2007

Baja Safari Announces SCORE Travel Blackout







Article in the Los Angeles Times:

"Reports of violent armed robberies are scaring some longtime visitors away from the popular vacation spot.
The Hall family was driving back to California on the foggy coastal highway when a car flashing red lights and blaring its siren pulled up behind them. A police shakedown, thought Debra Hall as her husband, Christopher, veered to the side of the dark road.Having made many trips to Baja California, they knew a payoff was just part of the price of a visit. This time, returning from the Baja 1000 off-road race, they figured $40 would suffice and they'd be back at their El Cajon home within an hour.

Instead, several heavily armed, masked men surrounded their truck and trailer and pointed guns at their heads, the start of an hours-long assault that ended with Debra, Christopher and their two children running for their lives through the hills.The Hall family's ordeal last week was the latest in a string of assaults against Americans that has shocked longtime visitors and severely undercut a recent anti-crime initiative aimed at polishing Baja California's image as a tourist-friendly destination. In a region where most visitors expect the occasional extortion attempt by police, the recent crime wave has seen attacks become more aggressive, often carried out by heavily armed men operating with paramilitary-style precision. Surfers have been assaulted at gunpoint on beaches and at campgrounds. One woman was sexually assaulted. Expensive trucks, trailers and boats have been carjacked.At least seven assaults in the past few months have been reported in the media or on websites of Baja surfing and fishing groups. The State Department, which has a consulate in Tijuana where citizens can report crimes, said a long-standing travel alert remains in effect for border regions. It's not clear whether the incidents are isolated or represent a trend, said Michele Bond, the department's deputy assistant secretary for Overseas Citizens Services. But the crime wave is enough to frighten some longtime visitors, including surf club owners who have canceled operations and some prominent off-road racers who may not compete in future Baja events. Most of the assaults have occurred at night in the coastal area between Tijuana and San Quintin, a 190-mile stretch dotted with surf beaches, campgrounds, resorts and golf courses.Surf school owner Pat Weber, of Encinitas, and his girlfriend, Lori Hoffman, were assaulted in October in their recreational vehicle within sight of 30 other campsites on a beach south of Ensenada. Two masked assailants shot up the vehicle when Weber initially refused to open the door. For the next 45 minutes, the men terrorized the couple, who had gone to Mexico after evacuating their home during the wildfires. Hoffman said she was sexually assaulted in front of her boyfriend. Then the men made off with $8,000 worth of laptops, jewelry, tools and other items. One of the men disappeared into the night with Weber's acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder."These guys were not novices," said Hoffman, who noted the attackers' creased pants, combat boots and sharpshooting skills. The incident was reported to Ensenada police. Many experts say the timing of the crime wave is curious, coming just ahead of a change in administrations in Tijuana. Critics say former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon bloated the police payroll with unqualified and corrupt cops. With rumors flying that the new mayor, Jorge Ramos, whose term begins today, will fire hundreds of police, some rogue cops may be going on a last-minute crime spree, say some observers. Ramos said one of his first acts as mayor will be to create a special tourist police force -- with different uniforms and cars than municipal police -- that will patrol the coastal highway, in effect, policing the police. "Whatever it takes, it'll be done," said Oscar Escobedo Carignan, Baja's new secretary of tourism. Escobedo said the state remains a safe travel destination. "I don't want to downplay what happened. We take it seriously. And we're making every effort to control it."But promises of a crackdown won't convince the Halls to return to Mexico.

Christopher and Debra, along with their 16-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter, were returning home from Los Cabos about 1 a.m. after participating in the Baja 1000. The family had driven the length of the peninsula many times, so when the siren blared behind them as they entered Tijuana, they thought nothing of it."We weren't concerned at all. . . . You kind of expect it. It's part of the culture," Debra said.Within seconds, about 10 men spilled out of two cars, she said. Five jumped in their 2007 Ford F-250 and pointed guns at their heads. Themendrove the car into the hills, ordering the family to keep their heads down.The men stopped in an isolated area and started stealing everything they could: watches, bracelets, $1,100 in cash, Debra's wedding ring. Other men tore out the toolbox in the truck bed and rummaged through the 27-foot trailer. One man, speaking perfect English, told them to kneel. Their son was singled out for rough treatment, Debra said. "They shoved his face in the dirt. I thought he was going to get executed right there."Debra crawled over and covered her son with her body. "He was crying, and I was crying. I told him I loved him. He told me he loved me," she said. The men huddled the family together and threw two sleeping bags at them. Then they sped off with the truck and trailer. Shivering from cold and fright, the Halls made their way down the dark, barren hills above the beach.

When they walked toward a light at a construction site, a man -- possibly a security guard -- fired two shots, Debra said. They eventually made it into a neighborhood and rang doorbells until a woman answered and phoned the police.The police, whom Debra said were attentive and "very nice," drove them to the border and hugged them. The family walked up to the border crossing at San Ysidro with only their flip-flops and the clothes on their backs. A customs inspector let them in the country without their identification, she said.Debra, like many other recent victims, said the experience won't diminish her love of the country and its people. She said the family had enjoyed decades of visiting Baja California, where restaurant owners knew their names, town mayors treated them to barbecues and bartenders knew how to make their favorite margaritas.But the family's south-of-the-border excursions are over."

Article in the San Diego Union:

By Bill Center
November 29, 2007

"Viewed purely as a race, the recent SCORE Tecate Baja 1000 was a success.
The second-largest field ever raced the length of the Baja California peninsula with few problems on the course.
But what happened around the event has created concern for the future of the greatest, most challenging event in off-road racing.
At least five people, including Olivenhain's Fred Reva, were killed in highway accidents away from the course that involved vehicles and crew members supporting the race.
Two Mexican nationals died in the crash of an unauthorized helicopter that may have been supporting a late entry in the race.
And reports of members of race teams being robbed, extorted or harassed before and after the race between the border and the Ensenada staging area are growing since El Cajon's Chris Hall went public last week about his family's harrowing ordeal near the northernmost toll booth on the toll road.
SCORE President Sal Fish returned to Mexico this week to meet with Mexican officials as the Internet became a forum for racers, crew members and fans voicing concerns about attending future Mexican off-road races unless safety and security concerns were addressed.
Mexican officials, who believe the three Baja races pump $30 million annually into the Baja California economy, are also concerned. Observers said the number of American spectators in Ensenada for the Nov. 13 start was down from past years, possibly the result of problems surrounding a SCORE race last March in Ensenada.
“Obviously, everyone is concerned,” Fish said yesterday. “I'm personally upset and have sympathy for anyone who had any problem. But some of these things can happen anywhere. There are precautions we all have to take.”

In addition to the Halls' ordeal, SCORE officials have confirmed a number of incidents, including the theft of an open-class motorcycle from the headquarters hotel parking lot on the eve of the race, the pointing of a rifle at a prominent racer the same night and the pursuit of racer Ryan Arciero's team by masked gunmen as it headed to Ensenda before the race.
Ives Lelevier, the assistant secretary of tourism for the state of Baja California, admits there have been many complaints received from Americans involved in the Baja 1000.
“I can't say how many messages, but it's various pages,” said Lelevier. “We have detected much of this since the Baja 1000. This quantity of information started to come to us and lots were saying they were also at the Baja 1000 and that they are concerned.”
“What is happening is a threat to racing in Mexico,” a veteran SCORE driver who asked not to be identified said this week.
“Gangs and fake cops were preying on racers just as they have preyed on other groups. There was a serious escalation of incidents this past year. But it's not just the race.”
Last year, while looking back on riding in every Baja 1000, Escondido motorcyclist Ron Bishop talked about how Baja California has changed. He remembered riding out of Tijuana into a virtual wilderness with only a primitive map and a compass to show him the way south.
“I remember some of my earliest races when you wouldn't see a light for miles at night,” recalled Ivan Stewart. “We'd stop at hamlets where families would provide you meals.
“Baja California has grown, just like everywhere on both sides of the border have grown.”
No one wants to see off-road racing in Mexico collapse. And Fish has vowed that SCORE will keep racing in Baja California.
Off-roaders have almost run out of places to race on this side of the border. Lose Baja California and SCORE might have to travel to Utah or New Mexico to field an event on the scale of the Baja 500 or 1000."


"A Quiet Baja 1000 Less Tourism and no party atmosphere.
The recent Baja 1000 was a ghost. There was practically no pulse in Ensenada prior to the legendary event that historically creates a noticeable stir and party atmosphere on the streets. The race teams arrived late, just before the race started, and left as quickly as they arrived. There were no sounds of huge horse powered engines cruising the area, hotels were empty, and the restaurants had to solicit the few passer bys. In the past, racers used to arrive one week or more prior to the race, pre-run the course, celebrate, party and spend money in Ensenada. Not this year.
The major reason for the empty streets in Ensenada was probably the length of this years course, which finished in Cabo San Lucas. The teams had to provide a 1296 mile supply line down the Baja peninsula at the many pit stops at preordained mileage points. Those support trucks probably never even stopped in Ensenada and continued on to their destinations along the race route.
The lack of spectators from north of the border this year was a vivid reminder of the current lagging economy and the bad press that has haunted northern Baja recently. Last year, an American, 73 year old Lloyd Duane Curtis was camping near Mulege on a beach to watch the pre-Baja 1000 activities. He was murdered for his Jeep, reportedly by a Baja family that he had invited into his camp. That story received widespread TV coverage in San Diego, and probably deterred many potential fans from coming to Ensenada to view the festivities that used to occur in previous years.
On Sunday before the race, waiter Arturo Alarcon at the El Corralito restaurant in downtown Ensenada said that this was the slowest Baja 1000 ever. The El Corralito is a favorite with racers, fans and locals, but Friday and Saturday nights were muerto, and they were still waiting for folks to show up on Sunday.
Finally on Sunday, the race cars came out of the transporters and made some noise in preparation for the technical inspection on Monday. The team support helicopters came streaming in, performing their flyovers to their base camps. All the race and media types hanging around at the San Nicolas Hotel were overheard asking each other if their friends had arrived yet. It seems the logistical plan this year was to show up as late as possible, and compete in a more economical fashion. It was game faces only at this years Baja 1000, and the party atmosphere was definitely non-existent."


"The career path outside Baja 250 will be performed in San Felipe and that last March was canceled at the request of ejido members of the port, has broad potential for return, said Victor Rodriguez Silva. The holder of the Committee on Tourism and Conventions said that the mayor-elect of Mexicali, and Gustavo Rodolfo Valdez Vildósola are in talks with Sal Fish. "They are convincing Salt Fish (chairman of Score International) to bring it back, we will play to convince the ejido is made," said Rodriguez Silva. According to the schedule We all left losers and the same brokers want San Felipe, the same developer wants the race in San Felipe, the same San Felipe wants, governments want, and then we realized that all we lost. " Victor Rodriguez Director of Cotuco Score Baja 250 is the race is scheduled for 14 and March 15, 2008, but still do not have a specific place. This race is the second event that generates more resources to port, and therefore, losses generated by the cancellation of resources, both in restaurants, hotels, tenants."


Now the Los Angeles Times and New York Times are also on this story. Baja Racing can confirm. The Tijuana Consulate IS NOT Investigating these matters. They are aware of the criminal activity. Be aware racers, if the Consulate doesn't know the details of this paramilitary trend in the criminal activity against visitors in Mexico, they cannot be counted on to represent victims in Mexico. The Consulate is the ONLY legal representative for American Citizens in Mexico. So, if they are not on the ball, Americans are at even greater RISK!

SCORE's official response, "That's Baja". "This race had everything a Baja Off-Road Race could offer", siad Sal Fish on SCORE radio. Yes, like deaths, organized crimes and ranchers closing the course and charging racers to pass! According to SCORE's official response, crime is Baja, rape is Baja, cops and x-cops in paramilitary actions against racers, is Baja.

On Wednesday, an official from the U.S. consulate's office in Tijuana said that within the last four months American travelers have reported four separate incidents of armed robberies and assault. Two of the reports were lodged by surfers. Many more public reports of crime against Baja racers have piled up since the end of the race. Including reports of paramilitary criminal events against racers. The tide of crime in Baja has changed for the much worse.

Many crimes victimizing Americans are not reported to the Consulate, however, as tourists hurry up to the border to put bad experiences behind them, consular spokesman Charles Smith said. Thus, "official" figures may be a fraction of the whole problem. Reports of violence in one case reported to the consulate, an Encinitas surfer said he was attacked with his girlfriend during a camping trip Oct. 23. Pat Weber said he is a veteran Baja traveler but will never return to the peninsula after he and his girlfriend were held at gunpoint during a robbery on a remote coastal bluff. His girlfriend was assaulted during the ordeal, Weber said. A spokesman with the attorney general's office in Baja California said last week that no arrests had been made and that authorities were continuing to investigate Weber's case. Meanwhile, Weber's story has spread on travel Web sites, the online edition of Surfer magazine and through a news segment on CNN.

In the latest incident of reported violence, during the Baja 1000, paramilitary criminal actions have started to vicitimize International travellers. An El Cajon family was robbed at gunpoint last week just outside Tijuana as they drove home from an off-road race in Cabo San Lucas. Chris Hall, a member of racer Andy McMillin's crew, was driving his family home when two cars of armed robbers forced them to pull over and stole their truck and other belongings, said a paid mouthpiece for McMillin. Attempts to reach Hall were unsuccessful Friday. The mouthpiece said he didn't know all of the details of the robbery, but added that Hall is "pretty shaken up about it and not really talking to anyone." Mexican officials say incidents are few.

Although some surfers say their days of camping at the beaches of Baja are over, an official with the Mexican government said Wednesday that recently reported crimes against Americans are isolated incidents. Edgar Lopez, a spokesman for Baja California's secretary of public safety, said coordinated efforts among local, state and federal law enforcement officers provide vigilance throughout the entire state."The surfer," Lopez said, referring to Weber, "it's not very frequent that we have these crimes on foreigners. The problem is not growing."' BULL SHIT! Lopez is talking out her ass. Baja Racing knows better. These events have been increasing every year for the last twenty five years.

NOW THINGS ARE OUT OF CONTROL. Armed guys with ski masks.
The consulate's office in Tijuana isn't so sure. U.S. officials are investigating whether paramilitary-styled bandits are specifically targeting Americans in Baja California, Smith said. In addition to Weber's case, the consulate received reports recently that two American surfers were pulled over near the border by an automobile with flashing lights that was masquerading as a police car."Next thing they knew there were these armed guys with ski masks pulling them out of their cars and robbing them of everything," Smith said. "We're still establishing whether or not this is a trend."Regardless, Weber said the bandits took $10,000 worth of cash and electronic equipment. Weber, owner of the Encinitas-based San Diego Surfing Academy, said he has surfed in Mexico for years and has dealt with petty crimes and traffic cops demanding bribes."I've had all those normal experiences and I still return time and time again," Weber said. "But I draw the line at armed robbery and sexual assault."Harassing U.S. citizens As one of his final acts in Mexico, Weber said, he reported the crime to authorities.Smith, of the consulate's office, said last month's announcement renewed one that the U.S. ambassador to Mexico first issued nine months ago. The latest announcement is scheduled to expire April 15, 2008.

The announcement reports dozens of cases of U.S. citizens being kidnapped in Mexico in recent years."No one can be considered immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors," the announcement states. "Criminals have been known to follow and harass U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles, particularly in border areas including ... Tijuana."U.S. citizens should restrict their stays to well-known tourist destinations and travel only by day on main roads, the announcement states, and "should exercise caution when in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times."At least one insurance agency based in California said reports of crimes on the peninsula are overblown."It really upsets me," said Carol Kramer. Carol Kramer has financial reasons why she is upset. She makes makes money on insurance policies written for Mexico. She can kiss Baja Racing ass!
"We're hearing people who are worried," Kramer said. "What we're telling them is you never drive at night, take normal precautions, caravan and don't camp alone." UNREAL, you must be kidding Kramer, paramilitary crime victimizing racers and all you get is that shit advise!

With websites like race-******.com deleting posts and threads about real Mexican criminal activities for the past year and a half and information that would help racers and SCORE not addressing the real criminal actions against racers, its no wonder there were so many victims in this years Baja 1000. With money grubbers like Lopez and Kramer, racers ARE NOT getting the real dope. If racers are going to Baja to race, they need the real information to make decisions.

UPDATES ON THE WAY Baja Racing is closely following this story.

Baja Racing Reported on the Baja Crime Wave when all others wanted to cover-up the facts!