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ROBBED AT GUNPOINT IN BAJA

Baja_Seve

Well-Known Member
This is late - but is worth repeating. While riding dirt bikes to Mike's Sky Rancho on Saturday Dec. 14 at 2PM, on an old Baja 500 race course in the pine forest south of El Rayo and northeast of Heroes de la Independencia, I was robbed at gunpoint by 3 masked men. Myself and 2 friends were headed from Rancho Santa Veronica to Mike's Sky Ranch on dirt bikes. We were on the dirt road that heads south in the vicinity of Pino Colorado. From this road, I believe it was the 2000 Baja 500, the old race course turned off south (right) and made it's way via the Rancho Candolfi road to Hwy 3, crossing Hwy 3 at KM 77 at Cerro Colorado. It was on this section, which is nearly impassable now except for motorcycles, that we encountered a stack of burned tree branches blocking the trail. My immediate thought was that the trail was was washed out ahead and this was a warning. We dismounted the bikes, when 3 men wearing dark clothing and full ski type masks (wool stocking with holes cut for eyes and mouth) came running out of the bushes screaming with a rifle, shotgun, and a very long (12") knife (probably a machete). They fired the shotgun into the ground in front of us and screamed "Money, money, money!!" They forced us on our knees with our hands up, pointing the weapons directly at us - they were extremely agitated. They jabbed at my 2 friends' backpacks and my waist fanny pack, screaming in Spanish (I know just a little Spanish, but I was so rattled I couldn't understand a thing they were saying). We took them off, and turned them over. I tried to open my fanny pack to give them just my wallet, and one of the men jabbed me hard in the back with his rifle and started screaming frantically. I threw the entire pack down to the ground. The 3 men grabbed our packs and ran back into the bushes, yelling "Meta, meta, meta!"

We immediately got on our bikes and made our way to Hwy 3, then south to Independencia. At the Pemex station, I asked where the local police were, the gent replied there was none in Independencia - I would have to go to Valle de Trinidad. When I told him what happened, he actually laughed and said, "There are marijuana fields up there - you should not go up there." He phoned the police in VDT, who told me to go to Ensenada to report it. As it was getting dark, I elected to return to Rancho Santa Veronica and then to San Diego where my ribs were now starting to spasm. We returned late Saturday night to the U.S. without reporting the incident to any Mexican authorities. I called the American Consulate in Tijuana but got only a recording.

In my fanny pack, I lost my wallet ($300 cash, credit cards, drivers lic, U.S. military ID), satellite phone and all my trail tools. In one of my friend's backpacks, he lost his wallet ($80 cash, driver's lic, U.S. military ID) and tools. The third backpack contained about $20 cash and tools.

I know the location quite well. There is a grove of oak and pine (?) trees where the old course made a sweeping downhill right hander, then cut to the left in a very whooped rocky section. There is a short course behind this sweeper, which is where these men appeared to have come from. I know the shortcourse entrance because there is a small, rusted dishwasher-type appliance that marks the shortcut. I would estimate it to be about 7-8 miles from Hwy 3. The trail is in very poor condition and a 2 wheel drive vehicle would have difficulty getting there. We on motorcycles like this section very much because the corners are all banked from the race course. I know at least one motorcycle tour company that uses this trail.

With the help of Sal Fish at Score and the owner of Rancho Tecate resort, the incident was brought to the attention of the Baja California Secy of Tourism and Atty General. Mike Leon told me "7 men were arrested" two weeks ago. Not really sure what credence that has.

Bottom line is this: I was foolish enough to think it could never happen to me. I was very familiar with the Johnny Campbell and Randy Ross incidents in 2000, the El Rayo incident 2 years ago and the Honda mechanics getting robbed last May on the way up to Mike's. OK - I'm naive. Now I will leave the wallet in the truck and hide most of my money in my boots - only a token amount for these idiots to find next time. Also, never stop for an obstruction - hang a quick 180 and jet. And power in numbers: just 3 of us was asking for it. I now discuss this very real possibility with all our Baja riders. BTW, 3 different tour groups have gone along this route since Dec 14 and have had no problems.

Seve
 

martininsocal

Well-Known Member
Steve- As I was reading your post, I immediately thought this was you coming across some maijauna growers/field tenders who decided their only course of action was to stop the motorcycles they heard approaching their farm. It is unfortunate for you and your friends, but at least you now go with more knowledge. A friend and I were robbed 3 times in 20 minutes in Ensenada while down prerunning the 1987 1000. Even with planning and foresight, we lost about 40 bucks and some plane tickets (as well as my buddies travel bag). Hide most of the cash, don't take chances with doped out gun toaters, and try to have enopugh gas to get you out of trouble. As you later heard, there are plenty of places up there you don't want to enter without sufficient force or weapons. Having some locals along always helps too.

Martin

If your gonna go, go BIG
 

Baja_Seve

Well-Known Member
This is an update to my incident that happened back in December. I did not want this to be another "gringo roll over and go home" incident but did as much as possible to prevent another occurrence. I have met personally with several Baja California authorities since the incident and they are genuinely concerned with what happened.

I owe alot to the Baja California Attorney General office, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Sal Fish at SCORE, Mike Leon (owner of Mike's Sky Rancho), Ron Rosa (owner of Rancho Tecate Resort), and yes - Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA). All of these parties took an active interest in the robbery and I have seen a multi-prong approach to the incident. Mexican Federal Judicial Police and Mexican Army visited many of the ranchos in the vicinity and made four arrests. Federal police are discreetly in the area (albeit for other reasons) and are keen to other suspects. I have ridden through the same area on 4 different times since December without problems. I have seen and been questioned by non-uniformed police in the area both north and south of Valle de Trinidad. I appreciate the Mexican response.

Did they catch the three guys that robbed me? I really don't know. But the stepped-up police presence is a positive step forward.

Same rules: Power in numbers, leave your wallets, hide cash in your boots, don't stop for b.s. obstructions.

C-ya down south,
Seve
 

JrSyko

Jerry Maguire
Thanks for the update and your deligence on the matter. Keep up the good work!

I can only lead you to water, I cannot force you to drink it.
 
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