A $15.5M Surveillance System for Tijuana, But Who Paid for It?

City-wide security system is enviable design, but question surrounds who paid, who did the work

"It's a scandal for a week, and the people get angry, but then they forget about it as the next scandal takes over," he said.

His colleague Adela Navarro said lack of government transparency is a frustrating reality in Mexico, "and here in particular."

Luis Javier Algorri Franco, the city's top public security official, said that perhaps people aren't looking for information with the right city department.

He and other city officials directed questions about the program's funding to one of the administration's top officials, Victor Raul Padilla Fitch, who didn't respond to phone calls or visits.

Meanwhile, the command center has been receiving visitors from Russia, Canada, England, China and the United States, where such programs are expanding.

In San Diego, police have 14 surveillance cameras that were obtained through government grants and private donations. But the Police Department doesn't have the resources to operate 24 hours, as in Tijuana.

"It's very impressive," said San Diego police Sgt. Juan Gonzalez, who visited the Tijuana center this week. "It just shows that the technology is available and it's just about finding the resources to implement some of that here."

Additional government grants could be used to extend San Diego's program, Gonzalez said. But he added that it's unlikely the city of San Diego -- with a budget of about $1.1 billion -- would have the means to pay for it on its own.