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Did Tijuana Police Chief Take Crime Fighting Too Far?

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Video published November 19, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: The days of one of Tijuana's top crime fighters may be numbered. Police Chief Julian Leyzaola has been hailed as a model for the rest of Mexico. He has survived assassination plots but he may fall victim to Mexican politics. KPBS Border Reporter Amy Isackson explains why his job is in jeopardy.

The days of one of Tijuana's top crime fighters may be numbered. Police Chief Julian Leyzaola has survived assassination plots but he may fall victim to Mexican politics. Chief Leyzaola has been hailed as a model for the rest of Mexico, KPBS Border Reporter Amy Isackson explains why is his job in jeopardy.

Guest

KPBS Border Reporter Amy Isackson

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

TODAY 'S TIJUANA TOP CRIME FIGHTERS MAY BE NUMBERED. THE POLICE CHIEF SURVIVED ASSASSINATION PLOTS BUT MAY FALL VICTIM TO MEXICAN POLITICS. AMY IS COVERING THE STORY. SHE IS JOINING ME NOW. THE CHIEF HAS BEEN HAILED HAS A MODEL FOR THE REST OF MEXICO. WHY IS HIS JOB IN JEOPARDY?

POLITICS A NEW MAYOR TAKES POWER IN TIJUANA DECEMBER 1st. WHEN ME TAKES PLACE HE CLEAN OUT THE GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS. IT IS DEEPER WHEN THE PARTY CHANGES LIKE IT WILL IN TIJUANA.

I SAID HE'S BEEN GOOD AT HE IS JOB HAS THE CRIME RATE DROPPED SIGNIFICANTLY SINCE HE TOOK OVER?

IT IS COMPLICATED. MURDER RATE THIS YEAR IS HIGHIER THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR. HOWEVER, THERE IS A SENSE THAT THERE IS MUCH LESS IMPUNITY IN THE CITY AND ON THE POLICE FORCE. THE POLICE NOW CONFRONT CRIMINALS. THERE HAS BEEN BIG TIME ARREST OF DRUG GANG BOSSES THAT CALLED THINGS DOWN. THERE ARE LESS SPECTACULAR CHUTEOUTS. LESS DECAPITATIONS. IN THE LESS MONTH OR TWO WE ARE SEEING A RESURGENCE OF BODIES HUNG FROM BRIDGES AND A NEW FIGHT BREWING BETWEEN TWO DRUG GANG NEED HOW DID HE LEADERS.

HOW DID HE DO THIS?

HE CAME IN A IRON FIST. HE SAID I'M GOING TO BE AFRAID OF THE CRIMINALS AND OFFICERS ON MY POLICE FORCE. HE SAID HE WOULD NOT TOLERATE CORRUPTION. HE WAS ON THE FRONT LINE TO SHOW CRIMINALS HE WAS NOT AFRAID AND TO SHOW THE OFFICERS THEY DIDN'T NEED TO BE AFRAID. HE ROUNDED UP ALLEGEDLY CORRUPT OFFICES. MANY HE CROSSED THE LINE IN THAT.

HE DOES HAVE SUPPORTERS?

YES. PEOPLE IN TIJUANA SAY THAT HE HAS CUTDOWN ON THE IMPUNITY. AS YOU SAID HE'S HAILED AS A MODEL BY THE U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO AS A MODEL OF WHAT THE REST OF MEXICO SHOULD DO. U.S. AUTHORITIES SAID THEY NEVER TRUSTED TIJUANA POLICE LIKE THEY HAVE NOW. HERE IS BOARDER LIAISON WITH THE FBI.

WE HAVE HAD AN OUTSTANDING RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. WOULD WE LOVE TO SEE THAT CONTINUE? YES. YOU DON'T BUILD DEEP RELATIONSHIPS OVERNIGHT. THEY ARE BUILT DAY AFTER DAY. LITTLE BY LITTLE. THIS HAS BEEN EARNED AND EARNED HARD BY THIS ADMINISTRATION.

WHAT DO HIS CRITICS SAY?

THAT HE CROSSED THE LINE IN CROCKING DOWN. MANY SWILLS ACCUSE HIM OF TORTURE. HIGHIEST HEMISPHERE RIGHT GROUPS HAS TAKEN OVER. THEY SAY THAT THE STATE OF BAJA, CALIFORNIA RECOMMENDED THEY FIRE HIM FOR THE PROBLEMS. HERE IS AN OFFICER WHO SAYS THAT HE TORTURED HIM, HIS .

HE WOULD MAKE US CONFESS. HE PUT BAGS OVER OUR FACE SO WE COULD NOT BREATHE. HE WOULD HIT US IN OUR STOMACH. I HAD INJURIES ON MY BACK. HE JUMPED ON MY BACK. HE JUMPED SEVERAL TIMES IN MY BACK. THIS HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. IT IS A VERY BAD EXPERIENCE. I SPENT FOUR MONTHS IN JAIL. I HAD TORTURE FROM THE SAME PLACE AND THE SAME PERSON. THIS IS NOT AN ISOLATED CASE. THIS IS ONE OF SEVERAL CASES.

WHAT IS THE POLICE CHIEF'S REACTION OR RESPONSE TO THE PREDICTION THAT HING MIGHT LOSE HIS JOB?

HE SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO STAY. THERE IS MORE WORK TO DO. BAJA, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S PLAN TO CRACK DOWN ON CRIME. 2011 IT IS A SIX YEAR PLAN. THERE IS STILL MORE WORK TO GO. THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE'LL HELP HIM FIND A JOB WITHIN THE ADMINISTRATION OR ANOTHER GOVERNMENT JOB IF THE CITY KICKS HIM OUT.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

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