Border Patrol Qualifies Statement On Drop In Border Crime

By Amy Isackson
September 15, 2010

The Border Patrol joined representatives from the FBI and the California Department of Justice in Tijuana earlier this week to laud the city's hard-nosed police chief, Julian Leyzaola, for boosting their confidence in Tijuana's force and fostering cross-border collaboration.

The U.S. Border Patrol also credited Leyzaola for what they said was his help in cutting border crime in half.

Border Patrol agent Claudio Chavez read a letter from San Diego's Border Patrol Chief, Richard Barlow, that said border crime along the San Diego Tijuana border had dropped by 52 percent so far this fiscal year compared to last. "This is a result of our collaboration with the Tijuana police under Leyzaoal's command," read Chavez.

Later in the day, the mayor of Tijuana sent out a press release celebrating the accolades heaped on the city's police chief.

However, Border Patrol spokesman Steven Pitts says Chavez misspoke. "What he meant was that the partnership that we're having with our partners to the south has increased. We're seeing increased patrols on the south side of the border, which is helping in the reduction in the assaults we are seeing against our agents," Pitts clarified.

Pitts says 123 agents working along the border in San Diego have been assaulted during the last 11 months. That's compared to 252 assaults the previous year. Pitts credits the drop, in part, to the fact that the Tijuana police show up when the Border Patrol calls them in for back up. Pitts says that's a change from the past.

The praise for Tijuana's chief comes at a time when his future is uncertain. Many credit him from saving Tijuana from drug crime. Others accuse him of torture in the process.

It's not clear if the new mayor will keep Chief Leyzaola on.