Border sweep targeting teens out past curfew

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Police Department on Friday targeted those under 18 who were out past curfew, attempting to enter Mexico to party.

Every night, thousands of people walk their way into Tijuana. On the weekends, some of those who enter are Americans under the age of 18, looking for a place to party where there is easy access to alcohol.

"If you're American, pretty much anything goes. They won't card you going into any club or bar down here," said San Diegan Jay Marchand.

"So for any underage person, teenager coming down here, it's easy to get alcohol," said 10News reporter Preston Phillips.

Marchand said, "I've come down here with my friend's sisters before who were like 15, 16 years old and they didn't get carded."

10News caught up with San Ysidro resident George Johnson, who is 19. Since the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, he was good to go.

"It's a cool getaway instead of going down here and waiting for your legal limit," said Johnson.

To deter the 17 and under crowd from going to Tijuana to party, San Diego police set up a juvenile checkpoint every Friday and Saturday night at 10 p.m., several hundred feet from the entrance to Mexico.

Each person who looks underage is asked for their identification and if they are not at least 18, they are arrested for breaking curfew and held till a parent or guardian can pick them up.

"Studies have shown that there's been a significant drop in juvenile crimes and juvenile victimization when curfew ordinances are enforced," said acting Lt. Terence Charlot, who is with the San Diego Police Department.

Marchand said, "It's a 24/7 party down here, you know. There's clubs that sell drugs and sex right inside the club so I wouldn't want my kid coming down here if they were under 18."

A 10News crew witnessed about 500 young San Diegans enter Mexico to party between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. We also witnessed a few arrests, including one girl who resisted police while they were handcuffing her.

During a typical operation, police say they arrest at least 12. They stay out through the early morning hours working to keep San Diego's teens are out of harm's way.

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