BY Sandra Dibble
Sign On San Diego
A retired Mexican military officer who drew widespread attention in his battle against drug trafficking groups and corruption in Tijuana’s police department has announced that he is leaving a top position in the Baja California government.
Lt. Col. Julian Leyzaola Perez wrote in his resignation letter that personal matters were behind his decision to quit his post as Baja California’s deputy secretary for public safety. He had held the position since December.
“I find myself urgently needing to attend to matters unrelated to my work activities, which necessarily require my personal attention,” he said in a letter dated Friday.
Leyzaola drew widespread attention as he openly challenged drug trafficking groups in the city during his three years with the Tijuana department, the last two in the top job of public safety secretary.
Leyzaola was replaced by his deputy last December when Mayor Carlos Bustamante took office, and offered the state position by Gov. Jose Guadalupe Osuna. Tijuana media have reported that Leyzaola is taking a job across the Texas border in Ciudad Juarez, but there has been no confirmation.
Always outspoken, Leyzaola waged an unprecedented campaign against police corruption in the department, where many officers were known to work by organized crime. During his tenure, more than 600 officers were dropped from the force, and 43 lost their lives.
Leyzaola has been a controversial figure. Though revered by many for his willingness to take on organized crime, he also has been the subject of repeated complaints from human rights groups alleging that he beat and tortured suspects, including members of his own force.