Juarez Police Chief Possible Suspect in Murder Attempt on Former Chief

Former Juarez Police Chief Julian Leyazola Juan Carlos Llorca-AP
Former Juarez Police Chief Julian Leyazola. AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca

The former police chief of Juarez is blaming the current police chief for the brutal assassination attempt he suffered earlier this month.

Former Juarez Police Chief Julian Leyazola was ambushed in the border city of Juarez, while preparing to visit El Paso with his family, and was thus unarmed, Mexico’s SinEmbarbo.Mx reported.

A surveillance video of the murder attempt was published by El Diario de Juarez.

Leyazola survived the attack, but sustained multiple gunshot injuries, including a bullet that struck his spine. Leyazola claimed that one of the gunmen who shot him said, “This is a message from Director Reyes.” Jesus Antonio Reyes is the current chief of the Juarez police.

Leyazola previously served as the police chief in the border cities of Juarez and Tijuana, where he gained fame, and a certain degree of notoriety, for his efforts to clean up the police departments. Both cities had a long history of corruption and ties to Mexican drug cartels.

Cartel connections were cited as the reason Leyazola fired Reyes from his department when he was chief, SinEmbarbo.Mx reported.

Specifically, Reyes was said to have deep ties to the Barrio Azteca – a violent hit squad working for the Juarez Cartel.  Leyazola told Chihuahua state officials to not hire Reyes because he was a malandrinazo, or “bad guy,” according to the El Paso Times. However, Reyes was hired back into the force, and eventually became chief.

According to the El Paso Times, Reyes stated that “he was not involved in the attack, has no ties to crime groups, and that he had given the order to provide protection to the ex-chief and his family.”

Two arrests have been made in connection with the attack.  One of the accused shooters “claimed at a court hearing that Leyzaola allegedly tried to sexually abuse his sister,” writes the El Paso Times, prompting the attorney general’s office to look at “revenge as a possible motive.”

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