Deaths of three women in Tijuana may be drug-related

Victims shot in head, neck, investigators say
By Anna Cearley
June 29, 2006

TIJUANA – who had been shot in the head and neck were found dead in the city's streets yesterday morning, and Mexican investigators believe the three were involved in either selling or abusing drugs.

Jaime Niebla, who oversees the state police force in Tijuana, called the findings unusual for such a short span of time and because of the gender of the victims.

He said tests would determine if the women were sexually assaulted. A news release from state authorities said the three had apparently known each other and the killings may have been drug-related.

The bodies of two of the women were found at 4:50 a.m. in Colonia Campestre Murua. Bullet casings were nearby.

One woman, Laura Patricia Mejía Chávez, about 22, had been previously arrested or charged with drug-related crimes, according to state investigators.

She was found near Adriana Cuevas Aceves, of about the same age, who is believed to have run a “tiendita,” or a small store for the buying and selling of drugs, according to state authorities.

The third woman, Nayeli García Escalona, 25 was found at 6:40 a.m. near the city's main thoroughfare, the Vía Rápida, also with bullet casings nearby. The locations of the bodies are about a 30-minute drive apart.

The bullet wounds in the head and neck most likely were fatal, Niebla said, though the women had been shot in other parts of their bodies.

Another border city, Ciudad Juarez, south of El Paso, Texas, has received international attention for killings of women there, some of which were linked to sexual violence. Since 1993, about 400 woman have been killed in Ciudad Juarez, according to Amnesty International.

Niebla said that five women have been slain in Tijuana this month, including the three most recent cases. He wasn't able to provide additional statistics yesterday.

Anna Cearley: (619) 542-4595;