Last year, a U.S. federal raid on homes in El Centro led to indictments of 19 alleged members of the Sinaloa drug cartel -- the same cartel that's moved into Tijuana, igniting a bloody power struggle and swelling wave of killings.
"There has been an explosion of friction between the various violent components in Mexico," explains Keith Slotter, Special Agent in Charge for San Diego's FBI.
It's an explosion so intense that some families, especially those that are wealthy or politically connected, have fled the city.
"I do not have any member of my family here in Tijuana," admits Tijuana Police Chief Jose Alberto Capella.
The man directing many of the recent killings, law enforcement sources tell the I-Team, is an American from Laredo, Texas, who loves Versace clothes and night-clubbing.
He's an enforcer for the Sinaloa cartel called "La Barbie" because his eyes are as blue as a Ken doll's.
Slotter says, "All I can really comment on is that is something the Mexican authorities are working with."
The FBI will not confirm his location. They say "La Barbie", or Edgar Valez Villareal, is wanted for drug charges in Louisiana.
"La Barbie" is something of a legend in Texas. He is called a brutal killer with a profile on Wikipedia, said by law enforcement to have ordered the kidnapping of four men from a rival cartel.
10News has a videotape of the men, who appear badly beaten. They may have been involved in the killing of Villareal's brother. On the tape, they are being interrogated. Then, as the camera is rolling, someone pulls out a gun and shoots one of the men in the head. The men, and their bodies, have never been found.
"They will not hesitate to send a very strong message and basically eliminate those who are in their way," says Slotter.
In addition, law enforcement sources tell the I-Team that Villareal and the Sinaloa gang members are targeting rivals from the Arrellano Felix Organization, guided to those targets by a former member of the AFO.
Law enforcement sources also say that while the Sinaloa gang is taking out lower-level rivals, the AFO is targeting upper management in the Sinaloa gang.
Last month, Mexico's Attorney General announced the arrest of a senior figure in the Sinaloa cartel, Jesus Zambada. He leads the cartel, the Attorney General said, along with one of Mexico's most wanted men, Joaquin Guzman, "La Barbie's" alleged boss.
"They are fighting the city of Tijuana; they are trying to control Tijuana," explains the Capella.
He is fighting on two fronts. First, he must crack down on the cartels on his streets. At the same time, there is the battle within his department.
"That means a huge war inside the police," he says.
He is confident the honest cops outnumber the corrupt ones.
"There are more good people inside the police than bad people who work for the dark side," says Capella.
It's a dangerous juggling act, as Capella doesn't know when he will feel safe in his city again.
"Maybe go to Iraq or Afghanistan, maybe more safety for me, no?" says Capella.
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