The date was Sunday, January 27, 2019. A gray cylindrical object appeared over the Colonia Libertad neighborhood of Tijuana, the largest city in the Mexican state of Baja California which straddles the US border across the line from San Diego, California. The craft hovered motionless and long enough for curious residents to capture it on their camera phones and post footage on the internet. Some witnesses claimed the large object flew north and then out to sea. Others claimed the object blinked out of existence. Many videos show this blimp-like UFO flashing intermittent lights even though it appeared in the light of midday. Some observers claimed the massive object made no sound, others said it was accompanied by a strange lack of all sound. Still, other onlookers claimed to hear a low buzz or hum coming from the craft. Immediately, researchers and the curious came forward with theories about this long, metallic-looking object hovering over Tijuana’s skies. A local news station claimed that it was a promotional airship either for a vodka company or for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin brand. Others speculated that it was an experimental aircraft let loose by the US military from one of its many bases across the border in San Diego. Could it have been a drone or a prank? A fringe theory even claimed that what appeared over Tijuana on that date in late January 2019 was an actual Zeppelin from the early 1900s which had somehow gone through a vortex or time slip which took it from Kaiser Wilhelm’s imperial Germany at the time of World War One to modern-day Mexico. Indeed, what appeared on film did look like one of the massive rigid silver-colored airships that brought fear and terror to the skies of Britain during the War to End all Wars. Whatever this blimp-like craft was, it wasn’t the first or last UFO recorded or described over the skies of this massive Mexico border town.
Tijuana has had a long history of UFO activity with scant sightings from the seventies through to the tail end of the 20th Century. Only recently, however, Tijuana and the surrounding area have become somewhat of a UFO “hot spot” with an exponential increase in sightings in the last decades. The wide adoption of cell phone cameras is one of the explanations given for the increased awareness of strange objects in the sky. Some researchers and witnesses contend that the skies over Tijuana have always harbored strange craft of various shapes and sizes but only now phenomena are getting more attention because of the widespread distribution of technology and the ease of uploading images and videos to the internet.
An area known as a mini “hot spot” for UFO and other paranormal activity is along a highway called Boulevard 2000 which connects Tijuana with Rosarito, a beach town to the city’s southwest. The area is a focus of intense development and industrial activity as the city of Tijuana increases in population. An event that made national news happened on the night of Sunday, December 9, 2018 when Christian Jaramillo was crossing Boulevard 2000 and came face to face with three very bright flying objects of a considerable size that were at low altitude. He stated he did not hear any sounds coming from them. According to Mexican UFO researcher Dino de Labra who shared Jaramillo’s photos and testimony with the Tijuana newspaper Frontera, “The witness was on the road, put on his hazard lights, got out of his vehicle and began to take pictures of these mysterious flying objects, in total there are two videos and three photographs.” The objects hovered over the street lamps for about 15 minutes before disappearing. De Labra also told the newspaper that Boulevard 2000 and the surrounding area have not only had witnesses claiming to have seen various objects in the sky, it is also known as an area, “where a considerable number of people claim to have been kidnapped by extraterrestrials, who have told them about the great planetary changes that are coming for our world and have provided a series of symbols that at the moment have no explanation.” It’s also an area where eyewitnesses have seen strange lights go down and hover just a few feet over the land, as if they are exploring or mapping out the terrain.
On April 18, 2016, Tijuana was the site of one of the most famous alleged UFO fleet sightings in Mexico. Nicknamed the “carita feliz” or “Smiley Face” fleet, this group of about a dozen lights grouped itself into a formation of a smile over the nighttime city skies. The chief eyewitness to this supposed “fleet” was Iván Mercado Martínez, a professional television cameraman for a local news station. He was atop Cerro Colorado at the time the lights appeared in the sky one by one, each light joining the other in formation. Cerro Colorado is one of the highest points in Tijuana about 540 meters above sea level and crowned with television communications towers. Mercado used his crude cell phone camera to film the initial formation, but because the event lasted a little over ten minutes, he was able to switch to a professional camera and filmed clearer images. After about 5 minutes, the fleet broke into a formation that looked much like two eyes, a nose and a crescent of about 8 lights in the shape of a smile. Ten miles away, to the west, on the Pacific Coast at the Playas de Tijuana Pier, corrido musician Carlos Guerrero looked up in the sky after finishing up his last set. He and his band members saw the same smiley face formation in lights over the ocean and he recorded the event with his cellphone camera. He posted the video to the band’s YouTube channel and within an hour thousands of fans and others across the internet watched the musician’s video. According to eyewitnesses at the shore, the lights just faded away soon after making the smile in the sky. Local news outlets claimed that what people saw were just hot air balloons or possible American military exercises over the Pacific. To many on that April night, that was more than a bit dismissive. The lights did not appear to be balloons or military aircraft from San Diego. There was no explanation for the fact that the lights just faded away.
A report of what seems to have been a mother ship and smaller unidentified flying objects made it into the database of the National UFO Reporting Center created by Peter Davenport, a regular contributor to the show once hosted by legendary radio host Art Bell, Coast to Coast AM. The witness described an event in the western suburbs of Tijuana in the early morning hours of September 22, 2017. A bright light appeared in the sky and blinked twice. It changed from green to red between blinks. When the light appeared, several smaller lights swarmed around the larger light giving the indication that they were either smaller ships or drones returning to a larger craft. The larger light hovered for about 20 minutes, and then according to the witness report, it moved “at an unbelievable speed. It seemed to me that it came in my direction in a blink of an eye, and then went back to the same spot.” No video footage exists of this event and no other witnesses have come forward with additional details.
Tijuana UFO events often also have witnesses and possible explanations coming from the American side of the border. Many Tijuana residents saw what the media called “The San Diego Mystery Lights” in the evening of August 29, 2018. A bright row of yellow-orange lights appeared in the skies of the borderlands, seeming to hover in place for about 10 minutes. They were joined by a smaller row of lights before they both just went out. Possibly over a hundred thousand people witnessed these mysterious rows of lights in the night sky. Thousands of people took to social media speculating about the origins and meanings of what they were seeing. Local media outlets on both sides of the border covered the event on the late evening news, and a San Diego television station announced it had a definitive explanation after it contacted local military authorities. Fox 5 San Diego sent out a tweet that night stating, “A Navy spokesperson says those lights seen in the sky tonight are flares. An aircraft squadron is performing ‘flare training’ about 30 miles off the coast of San Diego. The lights might be seen intermittently through Thursday night, when the drills are expected to end.” Many witnesses did not believe the official explanation noting that the images of the flares released by the military did not match the amateur video footage taken by thousands of people. The military photos showed lights with streaks behind them while videos popping up all over social media showed something entirely different. This event left people on both sides of the international border wondering what was really going on.
One of the largest cities in Mexico, the border city of Tijuana, is known for many things. Only recently it has garnered great attention from serious UFO investigators and the curious for its numerous celestial events that defy explanation. A combination of theories to explain the various sightings range from hoaxes and pranks to experimental military craft to extraterrestrial visitations and old earth airships caught in time vortexes. With the increase in the availability of cell phone cameras and the growing population at the US/Mexico border, many interesting and mysterious objects are bound to be reported to appear in the skies of Tijuana for the foreseeable future.
Inexplicata: The Journal of Hispanic UFOlogy web site
Mazza, Ed. “‘Mystery Lights’ Over San Diego Cause Social Media Freak-Out,” The Huffington Post, 30 Aug 2018.
YouTube channel of Yohanan Dias Vargas (in Spanish)
Frontera newspaper of Tijuana (in Spanish)