MEXICO: 2 officers close to Juarez police chief are killed
REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Two law enforcement officers close to Police Chief Julian Leyzaola Perez were shot and killed within 12 hours of each other in Ciudad Juarez, the violence-plagued border city.
Local daily El Diario de Juarez said the first victim was Simon Saul Estrada Luevano, the acting chief guard at the Juarez prison (link in Spanish). He was killed just before 9 p.m. Saturday when gunmen stormed into his house. Estrada had recently taken the chief guard post on a provisional basis, El Diario said.
About 8 a.m. Sunday, Roberto Carlos Maldonado Ruiz, a 13-year veteran of the Juarez police force, was gunned down after leaving a night shift. Chief Leyzaola had recently assigned Maldonado to head the nighttime watch at the Babicora station, El Diario said.
The newspaper described the two victims as "trusted" by Leyzaola.
A former military officer and former police chief in Tijuana, Leyzaola has been police chief in Juarez since March. He has reportedly survived assassination attempts and in July accused the federal police in Juarez of attempting to kill him as he responded in person to a massacre at the Cereso prison. Tensions exist between local and federal law enforcement units in Juarez, complicating persistent violence that last left more than 9,000 dead there since the start of 2008.
Seventeen inmates including one woman and two U.S. citizens were killed in that prison attack. Since then, a number of prison guards have been killed or arrested and charged on suspicion of aiding the gunmen.
Separately, 10 federal police officers are accused of running an extortion racket in Juarez (link in Spanish). The federal officers were ambushed and arrested by fellow federal officers during an operation last week in which the suspects were meeting a car salesman to allegedly collect extortion money. The officers now facing charges were also found with large amounts of marijuana and heroin, the El Paso Times said.
And on Wednesday, the federal government announced it was sending army troops and federal police to yet another state, coastal Veracruz, where violence has escalated dramatically in recent days.
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: In this 2009 photo, Julian Leyzaola Perez, then top security chief in Tijuana, attends a meeting with the city's mayor. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times