Drugs not a factor in shooting deaths at San Ysidro border cross - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Drugs not a factor in shooting deaths at San Ysidro border crossing

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SAN YSIDRO (CNS) - Drugs were not a factor in the shooting deaths of two San Diego workers who were gunned down as they sat in a pickup truck waiting to enter the United States at the San Ysidro border crossing, according to Mexican authorities.

Kevin Joel Romero, 28, and Sergio Salcido Luna, 25, were each shot repeatedly in the head, chest and arms with a 9mm weapon about 2:40 a.m. Monday, according to the Baja California Attorney General's Office.

The office initially told reporters that one of the victims had a "small packet of drugs among his belongings," and detectives were investigating the possibility that the incident could be drug-related. On Tuesday, the possibility was dismissed, with authorities saying a test
determined the substance in question was not an illicit drug after all, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"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. Carbajal did not elaborate on detectives' new focus, citing the ongoing investigation.

Both victims were U.S. citizens who lived in Tijuana and worked for West Coast Beverage Maintenance, a company on Morena Boulevard that services and cleans draft beer equipment for bars and restaurants.

West Coast Beverage Maintenance owner Matt Pelot described the men as "good guys" who were both "very hardworking."

 

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. A previous story post is below.

 

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Two men killed by a gunman who opened fire while they waited in line to reach a Tijuana border crossing were U.S. citizens, a diplomat said Tuesday, and their San Diego employer described them as diligent workers who had moved to the Mexican border city so they could afford to live on the beach.

U.S. Consulate spokesman Joseph L. Crook said the men were waiting in line in their vehicle early Monday almost half a mile (almost a kilometer) from the San Ysidro crossing, one of the world's busiest ports of entry.

"Our condolences go out to their families at this difficult time," the consulate said in a statement. "We are working closely with the Mexican authorities to ascertain all of the facts."

He did not release their names, saying officials were still trying to contact their families.

More than 34,000 people, including an increasing number of U.S. citizens, have been killed in Mexico's drug war but shootings of people waiting in line to cross into the United States are extremely rare.

Prosecutors in Baja California state quoted witnesses as saying a gunman approached the line and fired into the men's pickup truck, hitting the victims in the head, arms and body. Both victims were dead by the time authorities arrived.

Police found 9-mm shell casings at the scene, authorities said. That ammunition is used in weapons favored by drug cartel gunmen in Mexico.

Matt Pelot of San Diego-based West Coast Beverage Maintenance, confirmed the victims were his employees: Kevin Romero, 28, and Sergio Salcido, 25.

He said Romero's sister called him Monday morning to tell him they had been killed.

"She just said I just wanted to let you know that Sergio and Kevin were shot and killed this morning at the border, and obviously I was taken back," he said. "I was in shock, and I'm still in shock. These were good guys. Obviously no one deserves to die like this, but these were good guys."

The men, who were good friends and had worked for Pelot for more than a year, were crossing around 2:40 a.m. as they usually did to beat the long lines that form later in the morning when thousands cross to go to work or school on the U.S. side, Pelot said. They had moved to Tijuana because of the lower cost of living.

Romero's parents live near the border on the U.S. side and the men would go there to sleep before heading in to work. The two maintained draft beer systems at restaurants and bars in the San Diego area and were always eager to work overtime for the small company, which has 13 employees, Pelot said.

Pelot said he was just thinking of promoting Romero, who was originally from San Diego. Romero was trying to adopt his Mexican girlfriend's son and move them to the United States someday, while Salcido, he said, was a single guy who was born in Tijuana to U.S. citizens and grew up in Bakersfield, Calif. He said Salcido loved martial arts and was training for an upcoming bout in Tijuana.

"Kevin Romero didn't even drink beer," Pelot said. "These guys weren't dealing drugs that's for sure. If Sergio was your friend, he'd give you the shirt off his back. Kevin was the same. He was a real family oriented guy who couldn't wait to get home and take a walk on his beach with his son and dogs."

Pelot said his employees had invited him to visit them in Tijuana but he was too afraid to cross the border because of the city's violence.

In the first six months of 2010, the latest State Department figures available, 49 Americans were victims of homicide in Mexico, up from 37 for the same period in 2009 and 19 in the first half of 2008.

The majority of the slayings happened in border cities such as Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, which have also been the hardest hit by drug violence. In some cases, the Americans apparently were in the company of Mexican friends, relatives or acquaintances who were the targets.

Other Americans have been killed by stray bullets, and in at least one case, Americans were directly targeted by a drug gang: U.S. consular employee Lesley A. Enriquez and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, who were gunned down in their white SUV on a Ciudad Juarez street March 13, 2010.

 

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. A previous story post is below.

 

SAN YSIDRO (CNS) - Baja California authorities on Tuesday were investigating the shooting deaths of two San Diego workers who were gunned down as they sat in a pickup truck waiting to enter the United States at the San Ysidro border crossing.

Kevin Joel Romero, 28, and Sergio Salcido Luna, 25, were each shot repeatedly in the head, chest and arms with a 9mm weapon about 2:40 a.m. Monday, according to the Baja California Attorney General's Office.

The men's boss said the victims were U.S. citizens who lived in Tijuana and worked for West Coast Beverage Maintenance, a company on Morena Boulevard that services and cleans draft beer equipment for bars and restaurants, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"They were good guys," West Coast Beverage Maintenance owner Matt Pelot told the newspaper. "I don't think they were dealing drugs, selling drugs or anything to do with drugs. They were both very hardworking individuals. They had a zest for life."

However, Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez told reporters that one of the victims had a "small packet of drugs among his belongings," and detectives were investigating the possibility that the incident could be drug-related, according to the Union-Tribune.

 

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. The original story post is below.

 

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP/ CBS8) -- Two men identified as U.S. citizens were shot to death in their vehicle early Monday morning as they waited on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro border crossing to enter the United States.

Sergio Salcido, 25, and Kevin Romero, 28, both worked for the San Diego based company West Coast Beverage Maintenance. They were en route to work Monday morning when the attack took place while waiting to go through the San Ysidro border crossing.

Prosecutors in Baja California state quoted witnesses as saying a gunman approached the line of vehicles waiting and fired into the men's pickup truck, hitting the victims in the head, arms and body.

The shooting occurred before dawn Monday at 2:40a.m. The men's pickup had California plates that linked the truck to West Coast Beverage Maintenance. Both victims were dead by the time authorities arrived.

The state Attorney General's Office initially said the men were U.S. citizens. Attorney General Rommel Moreno later said their nationality was still unclear.

"We are looking at where they came from, their nationality, if they are dual Mexican-American (citizens). We do not have that information yet," Moreno said.

The U.S. consulate in Tijuana did not immediately return phone calls seeking confirmation of the men's nationality. There was no immediate information on their hometowns.

News 8 has learned that Sergio Salcido was a mixed martial artist fighter seen in a number of arenas throughout California.

Matt Pelot, owner of West Coast Beverage Maintenance told News 8, "They were the hardest working guys. They would work a 14-hour day and still ask if there was anything else they could do before driving back across the border."

Investigators said they found 9-mm shell casings at the scene. That ammunition is used in weapons favored by drug cartel gunmen in Mexico.

"The idea that's being thrown around that these two are linked to drugs or dealing drugs, just isn't true," insists Pelot.  "They were recently cleared by the TSA to do work at the airport."

Sergio once worked out with the Poway Martial Arts training center, but was banned a couple years ago, according to the club management, because he was hot headed and confrontational.

Kevin Romero was recently granted approval to adopt his girlfriend's five-year old son, according to Matt Pelot.

Mexican authorities have jurisdiction over the investigation and it's not clear what, if any, role U.S. authorities will play in it. 

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