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Saturday, February 02, 2008

SPEED Mex Security Report-Baja California, Mexico

LINK TO BAJA CRIME WAVE 6


BAJA CRIME WAVE 7

SEE UPDATED VIDEO CLICK HERE!

Baja California Crime Wave Continues.

FBI finally comes clean with the American in Mexico kidnapping problem.

"Narco" Air Operations Possibly Set Back in Mexico





San Diego UT
Sophisticated Mexican groups plot abductions
February 6, 2008
"Organized, well-financed and violent Mexican kidnapping cells are targeting a growing number of U.S. citizens visiting communities popular with San Diegans and other California residents. [Facts Reported by SPEED Mex/Baja Safari in December 2007]
Last year, at least 26 San Diego County residents were kidnapped and held for ransom in Tijuana, Rosarito Beach or Ensenada, local FBI agents overseeing the cases said yesterday. In 2006, at least 11 county residents had been kidnapped in the three communities.
“Some of the 26 were recovered, some were hurt and some were killed,” said agent Alex Horan, who directs the FBI's violent-crime squad in San Diego.
“It's not a pleasant experience. Victims have reported beatings, torture and there have been rapes. . . . Handcuffs and hoods over the head are common,” he said.
When contrasted to the 40 million border crossings made every year at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the kidnapping numbers are small. Most of the victims have business interests or family members in Mexico.
But authorities said anyone planning to visit Mexico should be cautious.


Kidnapped
The number of San Diego County residents kidnapped in Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and Ensenada rose sharply last year:
2008: 2
2007: 26
2006: 11
2005: 10
Source: FBI San Diego office


“I would certainly be concerned,” Horan said.
The U.S. Consulate in Tijuana issued a travel advisory last week that said U.S. citizens living and traveling in Mexico should be extra vigilant.
Gunfights and other violence linked to drug cartels have increased in Baja California, and more Mexican citizens have been kidnapped lately.
While some of the groups suspected of kidnapping Americans are connected to drug trafficking, most aren't, Horan said.
He described the kidnapping groups as sophisticated operations similar to terrorist cells, each with a boss and clear divisions of labor. Usually, one group is involved in scouting, another carries out the kidnapping, a third holds the victim and a fourth handles the ransom.
“They know who they're going after. I think they have a list,” Horan said. “These are kidnapping cells. . . . That's what they do. They do kidnappings all year long.”
While the FBI wouldn't say what the ransom demands are, or how often they're paid, agents said money is driving the increase.
“This is not about terrorizing people or retaliating. This is about making money, and obviously this is good business for them,” Horan said.
The scenario that fits about 90 percent of the FBI's kidnapping cases starts with a middle-class family with no criminal ties, who live in communities such as Chula Vista, San Diego and National City.
The family typically owns a business in Mexico and has relatives there. At least one family member, usually a man in his 40s, makes several personal and professional trips across the border.
While driving in Mexico, this person is pulled over by as many as 10 people posing as police.
They're carrying weapons, wearing vests and using police jargon. Within a minute or two, someone is shoving a hood over the victim's head and dragging him into a vehicle. His car is left on the side of the road.
“We've had victims held for days to months,” Horan said.
Not every victim is Hispanic, but there have been “very few cases where a tourist is targeted at random,” said Eric Drickersen, who supervises the FBI's border liaison office in San Diego.
Some of the kidnappings go unreported because people fear retribution, Drickersen said.
Ransom demands are almost always made over the phone. The cross-border communication gives the FBI its jurisdiction. But the agents need authorization from Mexican authorities before they can carry out an operation across the border.
Mexican authorities have been helpful, their U.S. counterparts said.
“They're cooperating, but we would like them to do even more,” Drickersen said.
A week ago, Mexican authorities rescued two female real estate agents who were being held in a Tijuana neighborhood. The women were kidnapped Jan. 19 by three men after showing a property in southern Tijuana, the Baja California Attorney General's Office said in a statement.
The men called in a ransom demand of $350,000, the statement said. Family members negotiated a payment of $27,000 and dropped off the cash, but the women weren't released.
Baja California state agents tracked down the vehicle used to pick up the cash. The driver led authorities to the women, and three men were arrested.
Both women are Mexican citizens, although one is married to a U.S. resident. She and her husband live in Chula Vista."


El Porvenir (Monterrey, Nuevo Leon), El Debate (Culiacan, Sinaloa) 1/30/08 - At a landing strip near Navolato, Sinaloa, Mex. armed forces personnel seized fifteen light aircraft, eight SUV's & pickups, an ATV, 3 pistols and small amounts of cocaine. Two subjects managed to flee. 30 rounds of ammunition were also seized. The "PGR" (the Mex. Dep't. of Justice) reported the aircraft are believed to have been used to transport narcotics."El Debate" reported 28 light aircraft and one detainee at La Luna airport, also in the Navolato area, and that one person was arrested.(note: these two reports do not appear to refer to the same event. Navolato, Sinaloa, is a town a few miles outside Culiacan, across the mouth of the Gulf of Baja Calif. from the southern tip of the Peninsula of Baja Calif.)


"Frontera" (Tijuana, Baja Calif.) 1/30/08 - Sergio Aponte Polito is the Mex. army general in charge of the country's 2nd. military district (Sonora & the entire Baja peninsula). He said that military personnel now working at the forefront of city police in Tijuana and Rosarito have received offers of collusion from organized crime sources and warned that he and all personnel under his command will continue operations against criminals without a let-up.He remarked that the large number of auto thefts would not be possible if the thieves didn't act without any fear of the police. The monthly average of vehicles stolen in Tijuana: 1,860. In Mexicali: 484.





"AP" (Tijuana, Baja Calif.) 1-30-2008 - Tijuana airport shooting. Truck crashes into Tijuana airport terminal after driver killed by gunmen. Gunmen chased a pickup truck into Tijuana's international airport on Wednesday, firing at and killing the driver, whose vehicle crashed through the windows of the terminal and came to rest near a security check point. Two women riding with the victim were wounded and the airport's operations were briefly interrupted, the Baja California state attorney general's office reported. The shooting occurred in the early morning when few people were at the terminal. The gunmen fired into the pickup as it lay inside the airport lobby to make sure the driver was dead. They fled in another vehicle. Police said the driver had called an emergency number earlier to say he was being chased, but the call cut off. No arrests have been announced. There was no immediate information on a motive in the attack, but Tijuana has been plagued in recent months by a spate of shootouts and killings of police, apparently involving gangs and drug traffickers. The unidentified bodies of three men – two of whom had their hands bound and showed signs of torture – were found dumped in a vacant lot in Playas de Rosarito, near Tijuana. It was the same spot where the bullet-riddled bodies of a Tijuana police official and another man were found in early January.


"S.D. Union" (Tijuana, Baja Calif.) 2/1/08 – Two real estate agents abducted earlier this month were found Wednesday in a residential area by agents working with the anti-kidnapping unit of the Baja California Attorney General's Office. The victims are both female and active in selling property along the coastal corridor straddling Tijuana and Rosarito Beach, associates said. Both are Mexican citizens, though one is married to a U.S. citizen, said an official of the Baja California Attorney General's Office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Officials would not say if the women live in Mexico or in the United States.
Four suspects were being questioned in connection with the kidnapping, according to the Attorney General's Office. The women were found in a Tijuana development off the highway to Rosarito Beach in a neighborhood known as Fraccionamiento Santa Fe. Salvador Juan Ortz Morales, the chief state prosecutor in Tijuana, said the investigation was ongoing, and his office was not yet prepared to discuss the case.



Frontera (Tijuana, Baja Calif.) 2/2/08 1. Jose Luis Lugo Baez, Deputy Chief of Police in Rosarito, Baja Calif., was arrested yesterday on charges of the attempted murder of the Secretary of Public Security of Rosarito plus also on separate charges of involvement in kidnapping, theft, homicide and protection of narcotics retailing as well as of organized crime operations.Lugo Baez has been identified as just one of thirteen officers who took part in the failed attempt to assassinate the Public Security Secretary.

"Tijuana experiences a "red-blood" January" .Tijuana was the most violent city in Mexico during the first month of this year. According to official figures more than one person per day was murdered in Tijuana; in comparison with last year, violent deaths have increased 87%. There were 247 executions in Mexico during January: Baja Calif. leads with 42; Chihuahua had 38; Sinaloa 31; Guerrero and Michoacan each had 21 and the Mexico City had 17. The source of the info was quoted as the Federal Department of Public Security.

Tijuana's City Attorney reported that he currently has ninety-nine "open" investigations regarding city police officers and personnel of the city's "Public Security Dep't." and that some of these were opened at the request of federal authorities.

SPEED Mex is a Division of Baja Safari Mexico Club

LINK TO BAJA CRIME WAVE 8

Thursday, January 31, 2008

McNeil Racing Perrys Fab 2008 Ranger Announced


McNeil Racing and Perry's Fab announces the new 2008 Race Ranger!
Click the picture for details on the story at McNeil Racings website. See Mcneil Racing dominate the Superstition Series at http://mdrracing.com/superstition/

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Helicopter Crash story gets interesting

LINK TO BAJA CRIME WAVE 7

BAJA CRIME WAVE 8




UPDATED! AUGUST 21, 2013

SEE Bottom Of Story>>>

UPDATED! March 30, 2010



Baja Racing News.com EXCLUSIVE!
The Baja 1000 Helicopter Crash EXPOSED

March 1, 2009 UPDATED!

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Hidden Layers
Most of the information below was obtained from La Voz de la Frontera, that first rate, second class, third world, fifth estate oracle of Mexicali, and from the internet, everyone's third class, virtual world anchorman.
The 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 had an unrehearsed addition to its story board this year. Just after three o'clock on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007, a 'chase' helicopter (it seems as if one is not a serious contestant without a rotor-powered satellite above his vehicle) dropped to a dangerously low altitude to obtain some pulitzer-winning photos of the entry it was tailing. Unfortunately, as any movie gunfighter would have done, the pilot did not keep the sun to his back. And that might be the reason the main rotor cut through a high tension wire and sent the helicopter plummeting to the ground.
The desert quickly dismantled the aircraft and scattered it into a tangle of buckled metal and debris. While a crowd of spectators drew toward the plume of dust that rose from the carnage, an invisible effect was delivered to every home and rancho that swung a copper umbilicus to the electrical grid downstream from the accident: a power outage that lasted almost seven hours and plunged San Felipe into darkness until 10 o'clock that evening.
Reports from spectators at the incident describe how a few of the bystander dashed forward to snatch up the camera from the helicopter wreckage, as well as a cell phone.
Paramedics and police arrived to sort through the confusion. Two injured men were treated and sent to an Ensenada medical facility. Two bodies were removed to the morgue were one of them was identified as Francisco Merardo Leon Hinojosa, aka El Abulón, one of the top ranking lieutenants of the Arellano-Felix drug cartel in Tijuana.
The following evening a battery of over fifty men, armed with AK-47s and AR-15s, miraculously convoyed along one of Ensenada's major thoroughfares to the Instalaciones del Servico Medico Forense, apparently without being seen by any of the federal, state or military law enforcement agency. They stormed the morgue, absconded with the body of El Abulón, as well as two hostages and made their escape.
Part of the group allegedly split off and took the highway toward Valle de Trinidad, where two police officers confronted them and were shot to death. Shortly afterward, police discovered two abandoned vehicles nearby. Inside they discovered several abandoned uniforms of the Federal Police, latex gloves, caps, a radio communication device and several AK-47 shells.
On Thursday, the Procuraduria General de Justicia announced the hostages had been found, safe and sound.
The two injured men, helicopter pilot Isaac Sarabia and copilot Rodolfo Calvillo, are in stable condition, recovering from their wounds.
It would appear this rather bizarre burlesque of events is yet another surfacing of the enigmatic theme that sutures together the exotic fabrics of Mexican culture. Namely, the ever-present stream, at times almost arterial in volume, of the drug flow.
The laissez faire attitude of Mexico on the subject of drugs has a long history. Marijuana, opiates and cocaine were commonly used throughout the 1800-1900s. Drug trafficking in Mexico began as a response to U.S.opium demand. It wasn't until the Shanghai Conference in 1909 for opium control that the United StatesMexico, the anti-drug campaign has resulted in a symbolic increase in the amount of illicit drugs seized in Mexico. Government exercised its disposition on drugs. Now, after almost a hundred years of political pressure directed at its lenient neighbor to the south, along with a series of economic reconciliations and mutually effective accords in exchange for tightening the anti-drug measures.
Why symbolic? Well, the international illicit drug business generates as much as $400 billion in trade annually. Interdiction efforts intercept 10-15% of the heroin and 30% of the cocaine. Drug traffickers earn gross profit margins of up to 300%. At least 75% of international drug shipments would need to be intercepted to substantially reduce the profitability of drug trafficking. Since Mexican drug cartels supply the United States with 80% of it's cocaine, the problem would indeed appear to be a localized concern and a soft spot in the Punch & Judy spectacle of both country's foreign policy. Mexico points its finger at the extremely high levels of consumption in the United States (estimated between 20-40% of people over the age of 12). And the US holds the activities of the big Mexican drug cartels accountable.
US newspapers cursorily touch upon the subject of domestic illicit drug problems. Mexican newspapers, however, with a thirst for the lurid, often publish the activities of traffickers in lavish detail. It's been said the most dangerous profession in Mexico is journalism. Although life itself has a 100% mortality rate, being a journalist in Mexico would seem to put the process on a fast track. Yet frequent articles and columns still reveal the heart that pumps the flow of narcóticos. These people are well-known to authorities on all levels and in a country that functions under the Napoleonic code, where guilt is an integral function of suspicion, it seems extraordinary that they remain free to conduct their business in plain sight. But this is nothing new for many people in Mexico, especially in those regions where illegal plants had been cultivated for decades and drug trafficking has become an established industry. Economic dependencies are so intricately interwoven with the activity that do anything crippling to its health would create a domino effect felt throughout the entire country.
Legitimizing the immense wealth of the drug lords and capos is the objective of the money laundering operations that present to the public innumerable businesses that are fronts for their illicit activities. In many small border towns 'recruitment' loans are given to peasants who want to open their own tiendas, and who are later called upon to repay the debt by acting as transport agents for drug shipments. Other projects, operating on a larger scale, only incidentally bring 'progress' to a developing area by promoting and investing in local land, merchandising real estate and expanding the local infrastructure.
The veneer of Mexican culture falls away from the lightest touch of a fingernail to reveal glimpses of a subculture that wears a long history of political and social dependencies. Midnight pangas, black helicopters, desert runways, road blocks, local business benefactors and countless drug-related industries well up through the tourist pamphlet depictions of carefree straw-hatted paisanos in white cotton shirts leading the lifestyle that millions of Americans covet from their swivel chairs and office desk.
Is there an ultimate truth to what a culture engenders, an ultimate observation that takes into account all the visible and invisible levels? Perhaps not. Maybe a culture assembles itself according to the precepts and desires of the person experiencing it. And like Oedipa Maas in Thomas Pinchon's The Crying of Lot 49, there's instability in the pursuit of its true nature, Blackout - Nov. 13, 2007.

This is it. This is the way San Felipe was almost a generation ago. The power is out, night has fallen and in every direction there’s darkness as far as the eye can see.
Rumor has it a federal helicopter crashed into one of the power grid towers while pursuing narcotráficos. Now the continuity of the long copper arteries that runnel from Ensenada to the Sea of Cortez, swagged from steeple to steeple across mountains and through valleys, has been broken. A synapse is dead and a part of Baja’s brain has gone dark. The part that gives memory to San Felipe.
All around town and along the highway, CFE meter discs have stopped revolving in their glass jars and near the entrance to every yard, a breaker box offers no impulse from the fretwork of its cables. Television screens are black as a crow’s yawn and everyone with an electric stove is eating a cold dinner. Cafes and restaurants are closed. Grocery stores, if they have no backup generator, have assembled their employees to watch frozen stock slowly become incontinent before turning bad. The boticas and pharmacies are having a terrific run on batteries and soon, one by one, the ubiquitous boom boxes will fade into silence. Gas stations are as good as dry without power for their pumps. And tomorrow, warm beer will be the only antidote for the unseasonably warm temperatures.
I’m sitting beside a homemade table outside my trailer. An aura of white light emanates from the hisses of a Coleman lamp near my elbow. I have to keep remembering not to rest my left arm near the top of the writing pad, which throws it into shadow.
A sickle moon above the fifth wheel looks like the edge of a coin dropped through a slot cut into the evening sky. The power has been out for four hours. All the advertising boards and store signs are dark along the highway. It’s a forced innocence, owing a debt to drug smugglers and a less than artful helicopter pilot.
At public addresses and near habitual gathering places, brows furrow above whispers that say the outage will last for at least two days. There’s hysteria behind their nervous eyes. Only the highway and street dogs are unaffected. Their noise is cultural and unrelenting, at least until gas tanks run dry. Then there’ll only be the dogs.
It’s a gift to be back in Old Mexico. The charcoal night is much like a covering of fresh snow. It hides the minutiae of progress, the cluttered edges of all the garish bric-a-brac that jostle like Wall Street traders with panic-filled voices, importuning even the meekest passerby. But without electricity, the machinery labors down to a rusted stillness and becomes just another faint outline in the darkening air. Blackness proliferates and neighbors slowly open windows and doors as silence fills their homes. They drag out an old burning barrel and hunt scraps of wood with flashlights. Stories are told around dancing flames -about other blackouts -about Enron switching off grid stations to chimney up California power bills.
Bats fly in and out of the laughter, turning with electric quickness. No radio, ice machine, home theatre or popcorn-maker distracts the fireside camaraderie. It’s back to first causes and the ageless device of sharing a common distress. In this small Baja town the universal currency is no longer the diversity of physical complaints suffered by its senior population. But rather, it’s the leveling agent of a power blackout that puts everyone on the same footing.
Whether Mexican or American, shoulders shrug and arms go up in feigned disbelief, knowing all the while anything can happen down here. Any wayward helicopter or plane can drop a blanket of darkness over an entire valley and perhaps compel its population of friends and strangers, if only for one evening, to adopt older and quainter ways of communication.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the mountains, less caring people are trying to process drugs in the dark.
Addendum
A helicopter that was flying over the Baja 1000 route came down today, right before 3PM, leaving a death toll of two, plus two other people in critical condition.
Apparently, the craft came in contact with some high voltage cables, which caused it falling around the KM marker 127 of the Ensenada-Valle de la Trinidad highway, near Mikes Rancho.
Two of the helicopter passengers, Pablo Gonzalez and Israel Romero Reyes, died intantly, while the pilot, Israel Sarabia and co-pilot Rodolfo Calvillo were severely injured. The helicopter was rented in the city of Tijuana with the intention of filming the race from the air.
According to Jaime Nieto, the area Firefighter chief, the accident caused an enormous blackout that reached all the way to the San Felipe Port. END


January 30, 2008 UPDATE

The Helicopter Crash proceedings from the reports from an American helicopter pilot supporting racers from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas:

""From the security of our [race organization name deleted] command post in Cabo San Lucas we were tracking the movement of casino owner Roger Norman in his trophy truck. He was making tracks through Valle de Trinidad when we heard the chatter on our Weatherman radio. “There has been a helicopter crash near mile marker 127. At least two people are dead…and several are injured. It’s believed to be the race helicopter for the Aztec Warriors race team.” Roger had only passed through there seconds before.

That moment would ignite a chain of events that would only add to the mystique surrounding the infamous Baja 1000, the world’s most prestigious and dangerous off-road race. Since 1967 the Wild West frontier of Baja California has lured American icons such as Steve McQueen, James Garner, Parnelli Jones, and Ivan “The Ironman” Stewart. Modern-day legends such as Robbie Gordon, Jesse James, Patrick Dempsey, and Jeremy McGrath continue that tradition.

This year the fabled race was hyped up for its 40th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone it was extended by a distance of over a 1/3 more than last year, and would span from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas…1296.39 miles. The time limit to finish was 56 hours.

[deleted] Adventures, was attempting to achieve their own milestone by entering off-road race cars. More of an innovative race team, professional athletes, and adventurous celebrities can compete with reliable, well-prepared race cars and complete event coordination. Their goal to finish 18 of 18 cars.

With an army of committed staff both north and south of the border, [deleted] had already experienced success twice before finishing 100% of their entrants…an impressive feat in a race where typically only 50% of the competitors finish. In this race, however, [deleted] the owners knew it was time to raise the standard in the area of race management. With this many cars in this long of a race, they knew the odds were stacked against them more than ever before.

They incorporated the most modern communications equipment, which due to the vastly unpopulated terrain of Baja California consisted heavily of satellite-run tracking, two-way radios, and internet. This was equipment that had never been utilized to this degree in a large-scale competitive racing organization. With the high costs associated with satellite use, however, they had to get creative in being able to manage 126 drivers and 250 crew members spread out over almost 1000 miles in 18 race cars, over 60 chase vehicles, six planes, and a couple helicopters.

That’s how we, a group of Southern California firefighters, found ourselves spread throughout the Baja Peninsula. Utilizing a fire department-based incident command system, our team of 12 experienced firefighters (with racing and Baja experience) were recruited to run [deleted] race operations during the allotted 56 hour time frame. Along with the command center in Cabo, there would be two comm posts spaced out evenly throughout Baja…one in Catavina and one in Loreto. In addition there would be 24-hour air relay coverage with two planes leap-frogging down the Baja in shifts.

As night came and went on Day One we found ourselves busy dispatching chase trucks to race cars needing tires, suspension parts, transmissions, and a variety of other problems resulting from the rugged terrain. In only ten hours we had logged 34 incidents.

Then, in the middle of the night we got word of something occurring back near the starting line in Ensenada. Two dozen men with machine guns had pulled up to the city morgue in blacked-out SUV’s. They had barged in and snatched the body of one of the men killed in the helicopter crash earlier that day. A gunfight ensued on the streets with the local police and before it was over two officers were killed. With the wives and families of some of our team members still in Ensenada there was definitely concern, but the overwhelming question was…who were the guys in that helicopter really?

Daylight brought the second of the three day race. Fortunately there were few major incidents and chase crews were able to resolve the standard problems quickly. They were consistently able to get the drivers back on the road, many times within a half hour of breaking down. It was impressive work in a setting where access is difficult and distance is measured in hundred-mile stretches.

Also, during the day we found out the explanation for the shoot out in Ensenada the night before: Apparently there was a last-minute trophy truck entered in the race by a team calling themselves the Aztec Warriors. They registered a chase helicopter as well and had already drawn attention with the presence of machine gun toting guards. Regardless, they had passed SCORE’s inspection and were entered in the race.

When the helicopter crashed the sun was low and was obscuring power lines traversing the course. At speed the Jet Ranger ran into the wires…and on video it appeared to be slapped down tail first by a giant invisible hand. The pilot and co-pilot survived, but the two passengers in the back were killed. It was discovered after the commando-style corpse breakout that one of the men killed was Leon Hinojosa, a.k.a. "El Abulón,” (The Abalone), the purported leader of the Arellano Felix drug cartel. It was believed they had entered the trophy truck and helicopter as a method of moving contraband undetected, using the race as cover. Expectedly, the trophy truck vanished after the crash.

Despite the high degree of peripheral drama, however, the race continued and as night fell for the second time the activity shifted back to it. At one point SFFD firefighter Marc Pearson marked our field around Loreto (mile marker 920) and found that all but two of the BC cars were within a 60 miles stretch…and the race was 70% over with almost a day to spare. It seemed that the combined efforts of the communication and chase crews were going to achieve our goal of finishing all 18 cars.

We were barely done patting ourselves on the back when Oceanside FD Captain Terry Collis received a call from one of our chase vehicles. They were near mile marker 980 with BC2, actor/racer Patrick Dempsey’s sponsored car, and the co-driver (name unknown) was exhausted. His relief from the last pit had failed to show…he had already been in the car for 24 hours. He was over it. He wanted to drive the car to the nearest airport…park it…and fly home. Game over. This incident would become one of the most dramatic and personal as the driver (Tanner Foust, Drift/Rally champion; X-Games Gold Medalist) and I all weighed in on the situation. The incident took about eight hours to resolve and became just another example of how the Baja 1000 pushes people beyond their limits.

No sooner had we resolved the BC2 car issue did we get a report from another team that the BFGoodrich car, BC13, was involved in a serious accident. The car was being driven by Bud Brutsman, creator of the TV shows Overhaulin’ and Rides. For at least 15 minutes we couldn’t get any information. We didn’t know if they had been mowed down by a trophy truck or had center-punched a palm tree. We dispatched Air 2 to see if they could get within VHF range to get a response. BC13 was also being filmed for a feature-length documentary called “Chasing Baja”, so we knew there had to be a film crew in the vicinity. #2 got in range they discovered there were no injuries, but the entire left side of the car was destroyed. Once again our hope of finishing all cars dissipated. Every single component on that side needed to be replaced. It took an hour to locate what would amount to five chase vehicles that had all the parts. They all converged on the accident site, most with a two-hour ETA. It was almost midnight and they were less than 100 miles from the finish line.

Meanwhile two of our planes, Air 1 and 2, were experiencing their own excitement as they took turns relaying the hectic radio traffic and landing for fuel. At one point Newport FD Lifeguard Captain and pilot Josh Van Egmond was descending into what Orange County firefighter Bret Clark perceived as total darkness. Then, about 100 feet above the ground some headlights came on illuminating a short, dirt runway. As a man with a sombrero fueled the plane from some rusting, dented drums Bret noticed a group of headlights racing towards them. Josh hurriedly shuffled the man away, cranked the plane, and took off before they could reach them. A close call? Who knows.

By now BC17, driven by Jim Christensen, was pulling into Cabo taking the checkered flag as the winner of the 2007 SCORE Baja 1000’s BC Division. The first overall vehicle to cross the line was the 1x Honda motorcycle of Robby Bell with a 10 hour lead, followed by Mark Post in the Riviera trophy truck only an hour behind.

John McInnis’ BC15, the Alabama Motorsports Park car, came in second, and after that most of the BC pack funneled in at hour-or-so increments. BC16, made a dramatic entry as it died only a hundred yards short of the finish line. SCORE owner Sal Fish looked on as driver Paul Thacker and his co-driver pushed the car across the finish line, straining and chugging Monster’s all the way to the checkered flag. Around the same time Jesse James crossed the finish line in his Monster Garage trophy truck, finally finishing a Baja 1000 in his third attempt. Roger, who had experienced some transmission trouble in the middle of the night, was able to get it replaced and finished as well. He ended up finishing 18th out of the 29 trophy trucks that had entered.

[Added by the Editor: BC13 had run into a plam tree and demolished half of the race car. At one of our favorite spots on the peninsula, the "Chasing Baja" project accomplished the Baja 1000 40th Anniversary Ultimate Baja Fail. Next time BFG, call the experts to get you through that section]

After several hours of CPR on the demolished BC13 the chase crews were able to revive it with a completely new left side. The film crew said it made for some impressive footage. (After the race it was the only car I really wanted to see.) As it made its way along the final 100 miles we had a warning that a new booby trap had been set approximately 300 yards before the finish line, with a 20 foot drop. What’s ironic is that we had also started the race with a similar “pitfall” booby trap.[Welcome to Baja Racing!]

After avoiding the fate of being abandoned BC2 rallied for 300 more miles and was the last BC car to cross the finish line, with about six hours to spare. Waiting at the finish line…for last place…was one of the largest crowds that had gathered to watch a Baja 1000 finisher. By finishing under the allotted time frame BC2 helped make history.

Three days later all the race drivers and crew were packing to head home. Most everybody was exhausted from endless celebration, which included an all-out VIP party hosted by Baja Safari, at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

While most of the crew were either flying commercially or driving (ouch!) home, I had the opportunity to co-pilot one of the helicopters back to San Diego. Myself and Terry hopped in Dave Martz’s Bell Jet Ranger and, along with two other helo’s, we made our way out of Cabo.

Seeing the span of Baja California from less than 100 feet was nothing short of magical…especially from the vantage of three helicopters in formation. The flight was estimated to take eight hours, and we had to make it before sunset because helicopters aren’t allowed to fly at night in Baja. (For many reasons, one being to prevent drug running) We skimmed the surf up the Pacific side, and then crossed over to the glassy Sea of Cortez side to fuel in Loreto. One of the helicopters had an NBC High Definition cam on the front and the cameraman got some amazing footage of us flying. Because of the distance we would have to fuel three more times before reaching the US, which meant we would have to fuel from 55 gallon drums that had been stored for us. We completely dusted the entire town (and several of its citizens) of San Ignacio as we stopped for fuel and food. There’s something incredible about dropping out of the sky for lunch in some remote place.

Our next stop was a ranch outside Catavina, a small town in the middle of Baja about 400 miles south of the border. The owner of the ranch had an agreement with San Diego-based Corporate Helicopters to store a few fuel drums there. We buzzed the town and landed in a tiny clearing surrounded by large cactus. An old man and his grandson came out of nowhere in a rusted out Toyota pickup to watch. As we tipped over the drums and rolled them through the silt to the helo’s we heard another truck approaching. This time it wasn’t just casual observers. It was a Humvee with a dozen anxious looking soldiers armed with machine guns. They piled out and completely encircled us. A young officer approached us and started barking questions in Spanish. Tim Sears, another pilot, had the best Spanish so we left all the talking to him. We continued to fuel but the situation was a little nerve racking. When they pulled up the old man and boy suddenly disappeared. That left just us and the soldiers. No other witnesses. I thought back to the story Bret told of the headlights rushing towards them when they were fueling at night.

We realized that they were most likely antsy due to the Arellano Felix cartel helicopter incident. They searched all the helo’s and made a half-hearted attempt at a shakedown. Problem was we didn’t have anything. Fortunately Mandy Patterson, the VP of Operations at Corporate, came up with the proper documentation to satisfy the officer.

We were able to leave Catavina without incident; however the delay gave us another problem. At the rate and distance we had to travel we were going to run out of daylight. Given our experience with the military all we wanted to do was get across the border. As it was we were going to run out of light a half hour shy of Ensenada.

Two hours later we watched the sun dip beneath the horizon, which happened to be obscured by a thick blanket of fog. Not only were we going to be flying into Ensenada at night, we were going to do so with little visibility.

Chip Page, one of other pilots, had the fastest helicopter (an Astar) so he sped ahead. He was going to contact the Ensenada control tower to see if we would get permission to land directly on the lawn of the Hotel Corona in Ensenada. At this point all any of us wanted was a cold beer and a shot of tequila. Thankfully, the tower was understanding and allowed us to land at the hotel provided we return in the morning to close our flight plan.

We flew over the airport and past the Ensenada hospital. The fog was starting to set and with all the power lines in the vicinity it was without a doubt a dangerous landing. Ultimately we fit all three helo’s in a tight, grassy area with high, secure fences. The best part was that the hotel bar was only 20 feet away with about 20 patrons all gawking at us through the window. Within five minutes we were alongside them with shots of chilled Patron lined up.

After checking in we decided to go out to dinner. As we walked along the main drag in Ensenada we noticed several military and police cars speeding around, apparently looking for someone. We didn’t care, though. Our day was done.

The next morning we woke up to pounding on the door. It was the NBC cameraman with an armful of Mexican newspapers…with Tim’s black Astar on the front page…twice. “We have to get out of here!” he said. The headline translated into: “The Presence of Helicopters Alarm Police- Believed to be Assault Commandos”

We knew the police and military in Ensenada would still be touchy after the police slayings that had occurred only days before. Their association with helicopters obviously didn’t help either. As the receptionist at the hotel front desk translated the article it became clear that “touchy” didn’t even start to describe the tension in Ensenada.

When we flew in the night before we passed over the hospital, under cover of both night and fog. What we didn’t know is that the hospital was being protected by the military because the surviving members of the helicopter crash were being treated there. And after the obvious lengths the people involved were willing to go for corpses, they feared the worst for the live ones.

When we passed overhead they immediately assumed we were an assault team coming to grab the living members of the crash. After all, in Baja only criminals fly helicopters at night. The atmosphere was so tense they didn’t even think to contact the control tower to find out if they knew anything.

The military, as well as local and federal police, were dispatched throughout the city to locate the whereabouts of the helicopters. Meanwhile, the military barricaded the hospital with tanks and armored cars. They had no idea their suspects were the gringos right in front of them casually strolling down Avenida Lopez Mateos looking for street tacos.

Eventually they figured it out, and they came to the hotel and saw the helicopters weren’t commando raiders. Interestingly, they didn’t even come and wake us up.

When the fog lifted we flew to the Ensenada airport and closed our flight plan. The soldiers knew what had happened and were laughing at us. At…not with…

We flew over a 747 jet landing at Tijuana International Airport and landed at the customs area at Brown Field. Finally, the trip that seemed it would never end…did.

A couple of days later, this time from the security of my own home, I flipped on CNN and saw footage of a long armored transport traveling through Mexico City with the survivors of the Arellano Felix cartel helicopter crash being moved from Ensenada. They mentioned our "false alarm" and how it was enough to warrant their relocation.

The 40th Anniversary of the running of the Baja 1000 was one for the record books in several different ways. Record-making finishes, helicopter crashes, mangled race cars, shoot-outs, and street tacos con cerveza.""


January 29, 2008 UPDATE



Pictured: 'El Abulon'
"The remains of a man killed on Nov. 13 when a helicopter crashed near the start of the Baja 1000 off-road race in Baja California, near the city of Ensenada, had been identified as belonging to a feared drug enforcer.
Merardo Leon Hinojosa was “one of the most dangerous hit men of the Arellano Felix” cartel, which is based in the border city of Tijuana, the office said.
Two of the four people aboard the helicopter were killed in the crash; witnesses said the craft appeared to be filming the race and may have become entangled in power lines."



The Original Story:
At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday
November 13th a Bell 206A-1 helicopter
(serial #41754) bearing tail number XB1MN
that was monitoring the 40th running of the
“Baja 1000” auto race between Ensenada and
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur crashed near
the “Mike Sky Ranch” in the vicinity of
kilometer 136 of the Ensenada – Valle de
Trinidad highway. The helicopter fell less
than 300 meters from the highway. According
to witnesses, the aircraft flew into a high
voltage power line supplying electricity to the
town of San Felipe. As a result to the crash
power was out in San Felipe for over five hours
before being restored around 8:10 p.m.

Initial reports indicated that two passengers
tentatively identified as Israel Romero Reyes,
age 33, and Pablo González G. died in the
crash. The pilot, Isaac Sarabia Roque, and
copilot, Rodolfo Calvillo Ibarra, were
seriously injured. They were transferred to
Ensenada by a helicopter (tail number
N549SA) belonging to Score International Off
Road Racing and then taken to the Hospital
Velmar medical facility’s intensive care unit
for treatment.

The bodies of the two dead passengers were
taken to the Ensenada morgue where they
arrived around 8:00 p.m. on the day of the
crash. Efforts began almost immediately to
confirm their true identity as rumors began to
circulate that they were actually
narcotraffickers associated with the Arellano
Félix Organization. According to data
filed with the race organizers they were
owners of an Ensenada radio communications
company located near the intersection of
Calles La Cortés and México.

The mystery surrounding the crash intensified
on Wednesday evening. Around 8:40 p.m.
that evening, a group of armed men arrived at
the Ensenada morgue in a convoy of fifteen
vehicles and stole one of the bodies, that
tentatively identified as Pablo González from
the facility. They also forced two employees
of the morgue named Juan Sigala and
Salomón Carlos to accompany them as
hostages as they fled the city. At some point
the vehicles in the convoy may have dispersed
with some taking the coastal route north
toward Tijuana while others took the
Ensenada – Tecate highway. An alert went out
to all police units in the area and around 9:10
p.m. Ensenada Municipal Police officers
manning an aid station in the town of
Francisco Zarco in the Valle de Trinidad
located near kilometer 76.5 of the highway,
approximately 30 kilometers northeast of
Ensenada, attempted to stop the group of
vehicles that was heading toward Tecate.

They may not have aware of the alert. Their
effort to stop the vehicles was met with
gunfire and two officers, Enrique Lemus
Hinojosa and Salvador González Quijano
perished in the exchange. Authorities later
recovered over two hundred spent cartridges
at the site.

The two morgue employees who had been
abducted were found several hours later in
Tijuana after having been released by their
captors along Bulevar Insurgentes.
It was later unofficially indicated that the
stolen body of Pablo González had been
identified by a team forensic experts sent from
Mexico City by the Federal Attorney
General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la
República / PGR) before the theft as actually
that of Francisco Merardo León Hinojosa,
a.k.a. “El Abulón”.

He belonged to the
infamous narco-juniors of Tijuana and at one
time was suspected of membership on the
AFO governing council. Individuals claiming
to be members of the “González” family had
requested release of the body to them during
the day of the theft, but their request was
denied when they could not present
documentation confirming a familial
relationship. That identification was
questionable from the outset and soon a
separate rumor, also unconfirmed, began to
circulate suggesting the deceased was not
León Hinojoso but rather the son of María
Alicia Arellano Félix and consequently a
nephew of the cartel leaders.

The Ensenada Morgue

There has been no further information
concerning the second crash victim who was
tentatively identified as Israel Romo Reyes.
Authorities seemed satisfied that it is his true
name was found and released the body. The body was
released to relatives in Ensenada. Preliminary
inquiries indicated that the downed helicopter
had been rented by “Pablo González” on behalf
of a company named Xtreme Team based in
Tijuana from a business named “Del Río Helicopters”,
located at kilometer 115 of the Trans-peninsular
Highway in the vicinity of the former Ejido
Chapultepec.

González supposedly paid US $24,000 for 30
hours of flight time.

The helicopter was reportedly monitoring and videotaping
the progress of race car number 133 driven by Carlos García of
Tijuana who was part of the Azteca Warrior team.
Unconfirmed reports indicate he is now in custody, but
there has been no official information published concerning
his status and he may well be a fugitive. At the request
of the PGR, the Eleventh Federal District Penal Court
issued a house arrest order on November 18th for
the pilot and co-pilot of the aircraft.

On Wednesday November 21st Sarabia was taken
from the Hospital Velmar to the nearby “El Ciprés”
military air filed and flown to Mexico City for further
questioning and the possible filling of formal criminal
charges bye the PGR’s Organized Crime Specialized
Investigation Division (Subprocuraduría de Investigación
Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada (SIEDO).

According to Zeta, the transfer was rushed to
safeguard Sarabia from an AFO plot to kill him
before he could cooperate with authorities. Calvillo
remained at the hospital where he is scheduled to
undergo surgery on the spinal column to treat
injuries sustained in the crash.

[Comment: The name Fernando has been floated
as that of the alleged Arellano nephew. María Alicia is
not known to have a son by that name; however,
her sister Norma Isabel has a son named Fernando
Sánchez Arellano (born c.1974) who in turn has a
young son also named Fernando (born c. 2000). That
child is believed to be the minor on board the
sports fishing vessel “Doc Holliday” when Francisco Javier
Arellano Félix was captured by the U.S. Coast Guard.]

The "Doc Holiday" Story will be EXPOSED NEXT
(so it took two years!)


______________________________________________________

Baja Racing News.com EXCLUSIVE INSIDER INFORMATION

The "Doc Holiday Takedown" happened near Cerralvo Island in the Sea of Cortez, just off of Los Barriles, Baja California South.

The original press release said the takedown was "off of Cabo San Lucas, in international waters". False. The takedown was in Mexican territorial waters. By 'Coast Guard' forces of the United States. 

During the Asian Pacific meetings in Los Cabos, President G.H.W. Bush flew into San Jose del Cabo, only for speciifc meetings. During the night, Air Force One with the American President, flew to North Island Naval Air Base, to fully protect the United States President.

Why these details? Because they are not reported anywhere else.
 

Javier was hiding out in Southern Baja for years, as Baja Sur was a protected criminal hideout under the Governor of the State and La Paz authorities.  

Editor, Gary Newsome
BajaRacingNews.com 

_______________________________________________________





STORY UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2013




— In late 2011, two brothers who had not seen each other for years but shared a family history of violence and drug smuggling met for several hours under extraordinary secrecy and heavy security in San Diego.
The meeting at a building at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar brought together Francisco Javier Arellano Félix and his older brother, Benjamin Arellano Félix . Each had once led the family organization based in Tijuana that earned millions in drug smuggling profits and was among the most feared cartels in Mexico.
At the time, Javier was serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to federal charges related to his tenure as the cartel’s boss. Benjamin, who had first led the family business to its heights as the leading cartel on the border before his apprehension in Mexico in 2002, had been extradited to San Diego to face trial a few months before the meeting.
The secret encounter between the two, which has never been publicly discussed, was arranged to convince Benjamin that Javier had agreed to testify against his brother, said a source with knowledge of the meeting. Prosecutors had said he would be their star witness.
But Benjamin was skeptical that his own brother would turn on him and go against the family business. Javier was flown in from a secret location, and the brothers spoke in a room under heavy guard but without lawyers, said the source, who is not authorized to speak about the meeting and asked for anonymity.
What precisely was said between the two isn’t known. But weeks later, in January 2012, Benjamin Arellano pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering charges and received a 25-year prison sentence.
Details about the meeting and Javier turning on his older brother come as other information is emerging that Javier has been cooperating with authorities in the U.S. and Mexico and is likely part of a witness protection program operation by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Protection for cartel boss

Javier Arellano, now 43, was arrested in international waters by U.S. agents in 2006, plucked off his luxury yacht. He faced the death penalty, but in 2007 then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez decided not to seek that punishment. Two days after that decision, Javier pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego and was eventually given a life term.
Some members of San Diego’s legal community have long suspected that Javier’s willingness to cooperate with law enforcement led U.S. prosecutors to drop the death penalty. That cooperation also has likely landed him among a select group of federal prison inmates who are housed under a special witness protection program.
The federal Witness Security Program is better known for protecting people on the outside of prison walls — former mobsters or their associates who have testified against dangerous criminals in exchange for a new identity and life in a secret location.
But the Bureau of Prisons runs the program for inmates on the inside who have agreed to testify against major criminals.
Benjamin Arellano, 61, is serving his sentence at a prison in Florida. Brother Eduardo Arellano Félix will likely be sent to a similar high-security prison in a different part of the country when he is sentenced Monday in federal court in San Diego for his role in the Tijuana cartel.

But Javier’s exact whereabouts can’t be determined.
His name doesn’t appear in an online inmate locator for federal prisoners. The media relations office of the Bureau of Prisons was twice asked if it could say where Javier is located, and both times the office confirmed he was not in the prison inmate database.
When asked if that meant he was in the witness program, a spokesman refused to comment or answer any question on that issue.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, who worked on the indictment against the cartel and then prosecuted Javier herself, was also mum. In a statement last week, her office said only that Javier was in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons somewhere in the U.S.

Clues in leaked document

In July, Mexican media reported on a leaked, 12-page deposition taken in February 2012 in San Antonio, Texas, by investigators with the Mexican Attorney General’s Office.
A man identified as “Howard” told investigators that the brother of a candidate for governor in Baja California was on the Arellano Félix cartel’s payroll when he worked in Mexican law enforcement.
Howard is described in the document, written in Spanish, as a “collaborating witness,” providing information on his criminal organization.
In the deposition, Howard refers to his “brothers” Benjamin, Eduardo and Ramon, the names of Javier Arellano’s siblings. Ramon was killed in a shootout in Mexico in 2002 and was not prosecuted by the U.S.
Howard was accompanied in the deposition by his lawyer, identified in the documents as Mark F. Adams.
Adams represented Javier when the U.S. attorney prosecuted him in San Diego. Adams declined last week to discuss the document or his client.
A U.S. Department of Justice audit of the prison witness program in 2008 said about 500 inmates were under protection, housed in special units inside seven facilities in the U.S. Only people on an approved list are allowed to visit the inmates.
John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Duffy on the Arellano Félix indictments and is now in private practice, said Javier is likely in the program, known by the acronym WITSEC. “He’s clearly in the BOP WITSEC,” he said.
Nathan Jones, a drug policy expert at Rice University in Houston who has studied the Tijuana cartel, said it’s long been assumed Javier cooperated in exchange for not facing the death penalty. It also would make sense that he is in protective custody, Jones said.
“When you testify against people and it involves your own family, you’re going to need some kind of protection,” he said.
The last of the cartel’s brothers will be sentenced Monday. Eduardo Arellano, 56, is to receive a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty this year to money laundering and investing illicit drug profits.
Federal prosecutors said Eduardo was a key adviser to Benjamin during the rise of the cartel. But in 1993 Eduardo largely dropped out of the daily operation following the killing of Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posada Ocampo in Guadalajara in a shootout between the Arellano Félix Organization and another drug cartel.
For 15 years, Eduardo lived in isolated, heavily guarded homes in Tijuana, prosecutors wrote in court documents. But during that time, they said, he continued to help launder money and purchase real estate and other assets for the drug cartel.
He was captured in 2008 by Mexican authorities and extradited to the U.S. in 2012.""


Stay Tuned to Baja Racing News.com

Baja 1000 Helicopter Crash Videos




UPDATED!
HELICOPTER CRASH STORY GOES SIDEWAYS:
NEW REPORTS!

SAN DIEGO -- Fifty heavily armed men cruised the streets of Ensenada on Wednesday night in an ominous show of force usually reserved for carrying out kidnappings of businessmen or organized crime rivals.

But this convoy of 14 vehicles pulled up in front of the city morgue on Calle Guadalupe. The attackers stormed the building, snatched a corpse, loaded it into a vehicle and sped off through the hills toward Tecate, where two police officers had set up a roadblock.

"They tried to stop them. The gunmen answered with bullets," said Edgar Lopez, a spokesman for the Baja California state police.

Even by the grim standards of violent crime in Baja California, the body-snatching incident set a bizarre precedent. Federal authorities are investigating whether the body is that of drug cartel figure Francisco Merardo Leon Hinojosa, nicknamed El Abulon -- The Abalone.

The gunmen fired more than 120 rounds from AR-15s and AK-47s at the officers, killing them before escaping near the wine-growing region of the Valle de Guadalupe. Hundreds of state and federal police officers followed in a fruitless manhunt.

In a crime-weary region where masked gunmen often leave a trail of beheaded or torture-marked bodies, people could only speculate on a motive.

"Maybe it was sentimental reasons," said David A. Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. The attackers, said Shirk and others, may have wanted to ensure that the man's funeral was attended by his friends. "If he was buried by authorities, they would expose themselves by coming out for any kind of public funeral," Shirk said.

The string of events occurred during the Baja 1000, which began Tuesday. The popular off-road race from Ensenada to Los Cabos draws hundreds of competitors from the United States. Among the last-minute entries were two men who registered a black pick-up truck called Azteca Warrior, according to media reports and Ensenada city spokesman Daniel Vargas.

One of the men, registered as Pablo Gonzalez, was tracking the race team's progress in a helicopter when it crashed into high-tension wires, killing Gonzalez and another passenger and injuring two pilots.

Two people who said they were relatives of Gonzalez showed up at the morgue Wednesday and tried to claim the body, but were not allowed to take it, authorities said. A few minutes later, the gunmen struck.

Authorities are investigating whether Gonzalez was really Leon Hinojosa, an alleged lieutenant of the Arellano Felix drug cartel.

Mexican authorities believe Leon Hinojosa took on a larger role after the cartel's suspected leader, Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, was arrested last year by U.S. officials. He was sentenced this month to life in prison.

Dozens of federal and state police officers Friday guarded the morgue and the hospital where the two helicopter pilots were being treated. More than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral Mass for the two officers, one of whom had five children.






MEXICO CITY: A mysterious helicopter crash during Baja California's storied Baja 1000 off-road race set off a strange chain of events that left four people dead and two missing after a nighttime raid on a local morgue, officials said Thursday.
The unidentified helicopter had apparently been observing the early stages of the race about 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of the city of Ensenada on Tuesday when it slammed into the ground, killing two of four people aboard and injuring two others. Witnesses said the chopper may have become entangled in power lines.
Questions soon arose about the three passengers who'd been aboard, whom local media initially identified as cameramen filming the race. The pilot survived.
But Jaime Nieto, Ensenada's civil defense director, whose department responded to the crash, said the helicopter was a rental and had no connection with the race's sponsor. "We don't know what they were doing there," he said.
The two injured passengers were taken to a local hospital, and the dead were taken to the Ensenada morgue.
Prosecutors identified one of the dead as a high-ranking drug trafficker, apparently linked to the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel. They could not confirm his name.
On Wednesday night, a commando of armed men in at least a dozen SUVs raided the morgue, kidnapped two morgue employees and fled with one of the corpses, apparently that of the reputed drug trafficker.
The convoy sped away on a rural road toward the border city of Tecate, but on the way encountered an Ensenada police patrol vehicle with two officers inside.
Both police officers were later found shot to death, said an Ensenada law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Mexican drug gangs have gone to great lengths in the past — attacking morgues, ambulances and cemeteries — to recover the bodies of fallen colleagues.
The Baja 1000 race is a notoriously rough 1,296-mile (2,074 kilometer) off-road event for motorcycles, four-wheel and all-terrain vehicles that started Tuesday and ends Friday with awards ceremonies in Cabo San Lucas.

THE ORIGINAL STORY:
TWO KILLED TWO INJURED




Two members of a television news crew have been killed and as many injured in a helicopter crash in the capital of Mexico's northernmost state of Baja California, Spanish news agency EFE reported Wednesday.
According to state prosecutor Francisco Javier Alcazar Jimenez, the helicopter, carrying the news crew, crashed here Tuesday afternoon when it became tangled in high tension wires overhead and the pilot lost control of the aircraft.
The news crew were to cover the 'Baja 1000 Road Race', in which some 500 teams from all over the world are participating in various categories, including automobiles and motorcycles.
Jimenez said that the landing gears of the aircraft got tangled in the electric cable running between poles near the San Pedro Martir mountains, and pilot Isaac Sarabia lost control. The chopper crashed just a few metres away from galleries where spectators were sitting.
The two TV cameramen on board, Juan Pablo Gonzalez and Israel Romero Reyes, were killed but Sarabia and co-pilot Rodolfo Calvillo survived the crash.
The Baja 1000 race, which began Saturday, runs along a roughly 2,000-km course from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, the southernmost point on the Baja California peninsula. The race will conclude Friday.
Baja Racing News.com

LINK TO BAJA CRIME WAVE 9