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Tijuana security boss Julian Leyzaola leads a risky, controversial life fighting Mexico's brutal crime

December 20, 2009 | 10:20 am

The relentlessly brutal crimes reported out of Mexico routinely describe victims as decapitated, bound and burned, tortured or killed execution style. At times, it seems the casualties suffer all of the above. Authorities say most cases involve players in the violent drug cartels, though bystanders have been killed too.

In Tijuana, the city's secretary of public security, Julian Leyzaola, launched a crackdown on organized crime and police corruption a couple of years ago. In return, the 49-year-old law enforcement boss has learned of at least four assassination plots and felt pressure from crime bosses eager for his resignation.

“If I quit under that type of pressure, I’ll feel like a part of them, an accomplice of organized crime,” Leyzaola recently told L.A. Times staff writer Richard Marosi.

Leyzaola’s fans say he has made more than a dent in crime problems by getting rid of some bad cops and drug traffickers. But critics accuse him of going too far, saying he allows torture and the beating of suspects.

The city saw a nasty surge in gang violence last week. It’s anyone’s guess whether conditions become better or worse.

For a closer look at the Tijuana police boss, read Marosi’s profile of Leyzaola.

-- Efrain Hernandez Jr.

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