Tijuana Cops Put on Notice over Dumped Bodies

Anna Cearley, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 16

TIJUANA—The city’s law enforcement agency is holding its own supervisors accountable for bodies that drug traffickers dump in public places.

District police supervisors and chiefs who oversee the city’s nine patrol zones are being placed under investigation and demoted whenever a body is left in their patrol area, said the city’s top law enforcement administrator, Ernesto Santillana Santillana.

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“The people who commit these kinds of crimes normally have some logistical help of a police officer,” he said. “It’s not easy to abduct a person, kill them and then put them in a car and then throw the body somewhere. It’s very complicated, and definitely involves planning.”

The policy hasn’t gone over well with some police officers, who said it’s misguided. The officers, who didn’t want to be named out of fear of retaliation, said they have no control over where criminals dump bodies.

City police are charged with patrolling the zones and are typically first at crime scenes, but other state and federal agencies handle criminal investigations.

Santillana, who oversees the administrative and operational branches of the law enforcement agency, is part of a new team of police leaders appointed by Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon when his term began in December.

The newcomers, including the city police chief who reports to Santillana, were recruited from the interior of Mexico with the idea of bringing a fresh approach to the city’s law enforcement. But some Tijuana police have privately said the department should be run by people who know the community better.

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An increase of drug-related killings in the city, which some say is due to various drug groups vying for power, has put pressure on authorities to come up with solutions.

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