According to the Los Angeles Times, the two Americans had moved south of the border for economic reasons. Twenty-five-year-old Sergio Luna and 28-year-old Kevin Romero were believed to be on their way to jobs at West Coast Beverage Maintenance in San Diego. Matt Pelot, owner of the company, said they had followed a routine of beating morning congestion at the San Ysidro Port of Entry by arriving at the crossing before 3 a.m. The two were waiting in line about 2:40 a.m. in their pickup when an unidentified gunman walked through the lanes of traffic, tapped on their window, and opened fire with a 9-millimeter weapon (typically used by drug cartels), according to Baja California authorities. Both men were fatally wounded by gunshots to the head, chest, and arms. The shooter then fled, leaving spent cartridges and little else.
Customs agents reported that the shooting occurred too far away from surveillance cameras to yield many clues.
Mexican authorities haven’t identified a suspect or a motive, but investigators posited that the attack could have stemmed from personal reasons. Luna, a mixed martial arts fighter, had gotten into a fight recently, and friends expressed concern that the shooting was retaliatory.
Law enforcement told Fox News that neither man had a criminal record, but one of them was found with a small amount of drugs. Other agents conjectured that possibly the men were moving drugs and didn’t pay their debts, or that cartels could have perceived them to be informants for American law enforcement.
But both men were described as hard-working and respectful, liking to take as much overtime as they could get. Luna was characterized as loyal and tough; his former coach, Robert Breslin, said Luna had moved to Mexico to escape the high cost of living in San Diego. Hundreds of Americans live in northern Baja California, many of them senior citizens who enjoy oceanfront living.
Romero was also described as a big man, capable of taking care of himself, who had trained with Luna.
The Times continued, “Drug war violence has diminished substantially in the Tijuana area in recent months, and U.S. and Mexican sources said the attack did not appear to be linked to organized crime groups.”
But Fox News added:
While shootings like this are rare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who spoke with Fox News on the condition of anonymity doubt this was a random shooting or a case of mistaken identity.
In the past, Americans were seen as off limits by the cartels, but not anymore. Along with the recent killings of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and ICE special agent Jaime Zapata, cartels have also targeted U.S. citizens who they believe have cheated them.
San Ysidro is one of the world’s busiest international ports of entry, but shootings at such crossings are extremely rare.
Photo: Traffic in Tijuana, Mexico waiting at the San Ysidro port of entry.