Photo: Lt. Col. Julian Leyzaola
Mere weeks into his job, Lt. Col. Julian Leyzaola is being accused of human rights violations, much like those he faced as a Tijuana law enforcement official.
Monday, human rights activists demanded that Ciudad Juarez’s secretary of public security be investigated regarding the “enforced disappearance” of four civilian men on March 26th in the border city.
Long-time activist, Gustavo de la Rosa, said fellow activists were told by witnesses that they saw police round up the men in front of a market. Some said the police were in camouflage uniforms like those worn by the unit that serves as personal bodyguards for Leyzaola.
Ciudad Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia has since offered his staff to investigate, while the city denies having the men in custody. A human rights group out of New York has said that a local official-led investigation has been “lackluster” and is calling for federal investigators to take over.
Activists are not accusing Leyzaola of having a direct role in the disappearances, but his past is working against him. Before taking his current position, he had been accused of taking part in and condoning the torture of both detainees and police officers suspected of being on traffickers’ payroll. The activists are questioning whether Leyzaola can or will properly investigate these recent cases, and his leadership skills are also under fire, as many are wondering what kind of reform he can bring to Juarez’s troubled police force.