The violence in Mexico has spun out of control in the last three years since President Felipe Calderon declared a war on drug cartels. At least 34,000 have been killed south of the U.S. border and now an American MMA fighter, 25 year old Sergio Salcido, has become one of the victims.
Mexican authorities say Sergio Salcido Luna and Kevin Joel Romero were waiting in their company truck while waiting to cross into the U.S. before dawn.
A gunman walked up to the white Mazda truck with California license plates and opened fire at least five times, killing both men as they sat in traffic.
Salcido, and fellow worker Kevin Joel Romero, 28, of San Diego, were carpooling into work in company truck from their homes in Tijuana, when they were shot and killed.
The owner of West Coast Beverage didn’t want to be identified by name, but he told NBCSanDiego the men were very close friends. He says Salcido and Romero worked for West Coast for a little more than a year, and they were hard workers who were “very respectful” and “would walk into a room and give you a handshake and a hug.”
He also says the men lived clean lives. Romero didn’t drink and they both trained together as Salcido prepared for upcoming fights. The owner of West Coast beverage said Romero grew up in San Diego, but he moved to Tijuana because it was cheaper to live there. He also says both men always wanted to work extra hours to make more money, and they never got into trouble.
The San Diego Union Tribune has a little bit more:
A Mexican law-enforcement source said the two men apparently were targeted by an assailant who approached on foot between the lines of vehicles, fired his weapon and fled. The Attorney General’s Office statement said that they had been shot in the head, chest, and arms.
Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez told reporters that detectives were investigating the possibility that the incident could be drug related. He said one of the victims – he did not say which one – had a “small packet of drugs among his belongings.”
Keep in mind that Mexican authorities are some of the most corrupt police on Earth and that murders are generally committed over big shipments of drugs not “small packets”. I’m only including that bit of information in the post because I know someone will bring it up in the comments if I don’t in an effort to blame the victim. There is no evidence whatsoever linking Salcido to drug cartel activity.
The violence in Mexico has been increasing on an exponential curve and mistaken identity and random murders have become common-place.
MMA Junkie spoke to Salcido’s friend and fellow pro-MMA fighter Dominique Robinson about the circumstances that drove the American-born Salcido to live in Tijuana to save money:
“He couldn’t get help. The reason he was moving everywhere is because of promises, and they were empty promises. Everyone lives in their bubble, and they ignore what’s going on.
“These sponsors only help the people who made it. These promotions, they show favoritism and put in who they want to and [expletive] over people. Trainers don’t train people if they’re not big names. It’s all the stuff I went through. Sergio left Bakersfield for San Diego for the promise of a team and coaches and fighting more, the prospect of these things that people were telling him.
“Now, it’s about two years after I said that. He went there for MMA, it failed him, and he [expletive] got stuck there. And now he’s dead. He’s dead. He wouldn’t have been there if MMA didn’t fail him. … Nobody can change my mind about it because I talked to the guy everyday.
“His story needs to be [expletive] heard,” Robinson said. “He’s a worst-case scenario of what not being helped and no one caring can do. It used to be the fans and everyone cared so much that they kept MMA going when it got taken off cable. And it went from that to this?
Let’s be clear that no one owed Salcido a living or guidance in his MMA career. He made his own choices and fell victim to some very bad luck.
But Robinson is right that Salcido’s story needs to be told. Young guys all over the country are dropping out of college and deferring better paying work to pursue their cage fighting dreams. Those kids need to know it’s a very hard road and that you’re on your own in the mean old world, be careful where you let your dream take you.
UPDATE: Mexican authorities have eliminated drugs as a factor in the killings, from the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Mexican authorities said Tuesday that they have ruled out drug-related violence as the cause for two U.S. citizens being shot to death Monday near the San Ysidro border crossing.
“There is another line of investigation that is very strong,” said Jorge Alberto Aguirre Carbajal, coordinator for the homicide unit of the Baja California Attorney General’s Office in Tijuana.
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