Underground Casino Visit in Tijuana, Mexico Turns Deadly for Three Gamblers

Posted on: June 1, 2023, 06:54h. 

Last updated on: June 1, 2023, 12:01h.

Visiting Tijuana, Mexico, can be a dangerous and sometimes fatal decision, especially for anyone looking to gamble. There have already been at least four attacks at underground casinos this year, the latest of which claimed three victims.

Police and emergency personnel respond to a crime scene in Tijuana, Mexico
Police and emergency personnel respond to a crime scene in Tijuana, Mexico. Supposed turf wars are leading to regular attacks, including murders at illegal casinos. (Image: The Guardian)

A home that operated as an illegal casino was the scene of a brutal armed attack that left three men dead, as well as a man and a woman wounded by bullets. The events occurred around 8:00 Tuesday night in the Buena Vista neighborhood in the heart of Tijuana.

Several of the victims were minding their own business while sitting peacefully at the gaming machines. The attack appears to have been unprovoked and might be the result of turf wars in the border city popular with US tourists.

Hiding in Plain Sight

On the outside, the site looks like nothing more than a small white house, with just a single door and a window, and no indication that it’s more than a residence. But inside, visitors could find the clandestine casino with an assortment of electronic gaming machines.

Members of the National Guard were the first to arrive at the crime scene after neighbors reported hearing gunshots. The agents confirmed the facts, and municipal police officers arrived at the site to begin cordoning off the area. They found at least 10 spent shells, which might help them determine the identities of the attackers.

Police reports indicate that the assassins opened fire before entering the small building, continuing the assault once inside before fleeing. The three fatalities were sitting in front of their respective machines when they were hit by the bullets.

Only one of those killed was identified, with the report listing him as 43-year-old Gonzalo Estrada. Another of the victims was around 45-years-old,  and the third was around 60 -years-old.

The injured included a 35-year-old woman, who was located on the sidewalk and taken by paramedics to a hospital. The other individual injured in the unprovoked attack made his own way to a local medical center for treatment.

Neither of the survivors or any other witness could identify the assailants. However, two of them are estimated to be between the ages of 40 and 45, while the third was in his 60s.

The bodies of the three victims of the armed attack were later sent to the Forensic Medical Service for complete autopsies.

It Doesn’t Pay to Visit Tijuana

Last week, another clandestine casino was also the target of an armed attack. That assault occurred in the San Antonio de los Buenos district on the western edge of the city.

That underground casino wasn’t as elaborate as many others. It was essentially an empty shell bound by four wooden walls. In that attack, two people, a man and a woman, lost their lives.

In another event, around 5:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday, a man was shot to death. The body of the approximately 40-year-old victim was left lying in front of a truck with the hood open, and police have no suspects or motive.

With these facts, at least four people have been murdered in Tijuana in the last 48 hours. Police statistics put the number of homicide victims this year at 764, of which 161 occurred in May.