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Rosary beads left by prisoners hang on a third-floor wall of a cell block inside the Tijuana jail.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

A sign announces that all civilian visitors to the Tijuana jail must show identification to the guard.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Handcuffed young men are escorted past the old Tijuana jail.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Young men sit on the 3-foot-wide floor of a holding cell in the old Tijuana jail.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

A Tijuana police officer discovers one of his bullets has come apart at the ammunition checkout window of the old downtown Tijuana Police headquarters.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

While a steamy soap opera plays on a TV in the hallway, a fan circulates the stale air in the old headquarters of the Tijuana Police Department.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Dusty, rusty and on its last legs, the Tijuana jail and police headquarters will soon close.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

A prisoner's eye view from the middle bunk in one cell now shows patches of peeling paint on the ceiling and magazine pages pasted on the concrete wall.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Pinups decorate the pink wall of a women's cell.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Polished shoes and a motorcycle officer's helmet await their owners on the sidewalk across from the old Tijuana police headquarters.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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A cacophony of shouts and clanging metal. The overpowering stench of vomit and urine. This is the Tijuana jail, nicknamed “La Ocho” because it is on Eighth Street. The lockup, known for decades to hard-partying hordes of Americans and locals, is closing, and Times reporter Richard Marosi and photograper Don Bartletti were given a tour of the dank halls. See Bartletti’s photos in the photo gallery above and read Marosi’s story “Notorious Tijuana jail to be just a dark memory.”


  1. October 7, 2010, 12:31 am

    [...] Bartletti provided photos for Richard Marosi’s story “Notorious Tijuana jail to be just a dark [...]

  2. April 15, 2011, 11:57 pm

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    By: MBT
  3. February 19, 2013, 11:12 pm

    I actually spent two weeks in this hellhole about a year before it was closed for not being up to Mexican jail standards. The bunks were sheet metal racks w/o any type of mattress. That was IF you were lucky enough to even have one. Blankets were rented for $1 a night by other long term inmates that lived on the top tier. Usually 3 inmates were expected to sleep on the floor. For a total of 7 men per cell. One under each bunk, and one in the middle. 2 racks on each wall. The toilets did not flush. Once per day a 5 gallon bucket was filled to "gravity" flush a days worth of 7 people's waste. One night I couldn't sleep and listened to the guards take turns downstairs beating a man into unconsciousness only to bring him back to w/ smelling salts for another beating. They were using a battery as well to torture him. The end the mans screams finally silented & the thud of his body being loaded into a transport van. During the day some the guards would try and sneak up on inmates. Anything dangling outside the bars was fair game for a good whack. At night there were SO many roaches it looked as if the wall was flowing!!! The food given the previous comment Ill leave to your imagination.

    By: Guero5250
  4. February 25, 2013, 12:26 am

    That's definitely one metal product I don't want to be anywhere near. Just thinking of the type of people behind those bars sends shivers up my spine.

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