SAN DIEGO — An international manhunt is underway tonight for a suspected serial killer, who is reported to have killed at least three sex workers in Tijuana.
The suspect is a U.S. citizen, according to Tijuana’s Zeta newspaper, which broke the story.
“It was about mid-November when we heard that authorities recognized this case as a possibility of a serial killer,” said Vicente Calderon, a reporter with tijuanapress.com.
The three women were found beaten and strangled in Tijuana's Zona Norte neighborhood, home to the city's red-light district.
Calderon said the area is known for crime and a destination for sex tourism.
“In a space of about four blocks, you see one next to the other; different strip clubs. And adjacent to that in many cases, hotels, because prostitution is legal and regulated in Tijuana. There are a lot of people who are coming here looking for love, coming from across the border,” said Calderon.
Zeta reported last month that the suspect had been implicated in all three murders, the first in August 2021, the other two in January and February of 2022; and that the serial killer crossed the U.S. border into San Diego in February.
“They are requesting assistance from the U.S. authorities. They are waiting for an arrest warrant in the U.S. They are going to try and extradite the suspect,” said Calderon.
Zeta identified the 30-year-old suspect, but the San Diego office of the FBI has not confirmed his name to CBS 8. He is Hispanic, overweight, with an oval face, protruding ears and short, dark hair.
Mexican authorities have been tight-lipped about the case.
“By now, we have over 1,900 homicides registered in Tijuana this year. And this case was not exactly something that the authorities were willing to talk about. They don’t want more bad publicity,” said Calderon.
The three victims worked in the red-light district and the suspected killer was a regular customer at the clubs, according to the Zeta newspaper report.
“This guy is contacting these women in the strip clubs and luring them, as a client so to speak; and then after having sex with them, beating them or strangling them and then killing them,” said Calderon.
Police continue to investigate unsolved murders to see if they can identify more potential victims.
The cell phone of the Tijuana victim who was murdered in January 2022 was found in Riverside County, according to the Zeta report.