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Sources: Shooting in University City, 2 shootings in Chula Vista linked to cartels

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Posted at 2:05 PM, May 02, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Three recent shootings in San Diego County are being investigated as Mexican cartel-related violence on the U.S. side of the border, sources told Team 10.

Local law enforcement and federal agents have been and continue to be tight-lipped about any connection between a deadly shooting on Feb. 17 at a University City apartment complex, and two shootings in Chula Vista -- one at a Chili’s restaurant on March 26, and another several hours later on March 27 at an apartment complex in the city’s Otay Ranch neighborhood.

While no one has commented on the record, two law enforcement sources told Team 10 that they are investigating the connection between Tijuana drug cartels and the local attacks.

RELATED: One dead, another hospitalized after shooting in University City

Cartel experts have told Team 10 that there is no reason for the public to panic, as the drug wars on the U.S. side of the border are rare and not widespread, as well as limited to people involved in the drug trade.

Michael Lettieri, of the Mexico Violence Resource Project, told Team 10 Senior Investigator Jim Avila, "We’ve really seen very few episodes of violence that crosses the border. When it does cross the border, it’s very targeted and occurs for a very specific reason and it’s not something that affects the general population.”

Lettieri also said it shouldn’t be a surprise that the cartel violence sometimes spreads across the border, since the United States is responsible for the “3 Ms” of the drug trade -- market, money, and metal (guns).

San Diego State University Latin American studies professor Victor Clark Alfaro said this type of Mexican drug trade violence is rare because it’s not good business.

RELATED: Chula Vista Police: Teens arrested following deadly South Bay shooting

“For a businessman, a lot of violence will attract the attention of all the authorities,” Clark Alfaro said.

Both experts also credit U.S. law enforcement with keeping cartels under control on the American side of the border.

While the shootings in San Diego County are shocking and chilling to witness, the experts reiterated cartel shootings in one of the safest cities in the country are extremely rare and targeted to those competitors in the drug business.