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Tijuana Officers Charged in Rape Case

By a Times Staff Writer

Four police officers in Tijuana have been charged in connection with the alleged rape of an American tourist as she tried to return to the United States after spending the day in the border city, officials announced Wednesday.

The incident allegedly occurred Oct. 7 as the woman, her husband and their young son were walking across the border at the San Ysidro crossing.

The officers allegedly accused the family of having purchased illegal drugs from one of the many pharmacies located near the border -- a common accusation leading to demand for a bribe.

While two officers took the husband and son to a nearby ATM to get cash to pay the bribe, the woman was taken to an unoccupied room near the pedestrian walkway and raped by one officer while another stood guard, officials said.

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With 26 million visitors a year to Tijuana, allegations of bribery demands by Tijuana police on tourists are common, but physical violence is rare.

The woman reported the incident as soon as she crossed the border and later returned to Tijuana to identify her attackers, officials said.

“This is an extremely egregious case,” said Lisa Davis, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana. “We’ve had nothing but excellent cooperation from the Tijuana and state police from the moment it was reported.”

Officers Hector Manuel Arias, Victor Lopez and Jesus Ortiz were arrested Tuesday. The fourth, Benjamin Rodriguez, was arrested Wednesday.

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Arias is charged with rape, Lopez and Ortiz with extortion, and Rodriguez, the alleged lookout, with failing to report a crime in progress. Arias was ordered held without bail, but the other three are expected to be released on bail.


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