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3 San Diego Men Held in Death of Tijuana Officer

Crime: They surrender to U.S. authorities and deny role in shooting, which wounded another policeman.

April 30, 1997|ANNE-MARIE O'CONNOR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — Three young San Diego men suspected of involvement in a Tijuana shooting that left one Mexican police officer dead and another seriously wounded surrendered to U.S. authorities early Tuesday, U.S. law enforcement spokesmen said.

The youths, two of them U.S. citizens and the third a U.S. resident, have denied involvement in the shooting. The three say the car that linked them to the crime was stolen from them when they stopped to fix a flat tire in Tijuana, according to U.S. authorities.

The head of the Baja California state judicial police, Miguel Ruvelcaba, said the surviving officer identified the three from their driver's license photos Tuesday. He said Mexican authorities would request extradition of two of the suspects once a Tijuana judge has prepared formal charges.

"They must pay for the crime where it was committed," Ruvelcaba said.

Mexican consular officials in San Diego could not be reached for comment.

The three were Tuesday arrested by the U.S. Customs Service on charges of conspiracy to export firearms and exporting firearms to Mexico without a license, said Ana Cobian of the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego. They are to be arraigned before a federal magistrate Wednesday, she said.

Sgt. Manuel Rodriguez, the head of the San Diego cross-border liaison team, said the two Tijuana municipal police officers had tried to stop a car with California plates for a traffic offense in a working-class suburb of south Tijuana at 9 p.m. Monday.

When Tijuana Officer Antonio Garcia Ramirez approached the car on foot, the driver jumped out and fired, killing Garcia. His partner, David Perez Cruz, was wounded, but managed to fire back as the vehicle sped away, Rodriguez said.

The license plate of the car led police to the home of a U.S. citizen, Jesus Ismael Alfaro, 22, of San Ysidro, Rodriguez said. When San Diego police arrived at his house, Alfaro called home from Tijuana.

Police persuaded Alfaro to return to San Diego, suggesting the three suspects might be safer in U.S. hands. He returned with a 17-year-old youth whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, and Alejandro Dominguez, 19, a Mexican citizen with U.S. residency.

Ruvelcaba said Perez identified two of the three as triggermen. He said he expected a Mexican judge to present the case against the suspects today.

The three youths walked across the border and were taken into custody by San Diego police. Because of the international nature of the incident, the U.S. attorney's office assumed jurisdiction in the case. The youths also were interviewed by Tijuana state judicial police Tuesday, according to a San Diego police statement.

Alfaro and Dominguez are being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, authorities said. They would not say where the 17-year-old is being held because he is a juvenile. None have criminal records, San Diego police said.

Mexican authorities said the car involved in the incident was found in Tijuana in the vicinity of a relative of Alfaro.

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