TIJUANA, Mexico -- Tijuana’s police chief Alejandro Lares resigned Friday after he was asked to leave his post, a spokeswoman in the police department said.
The news comes a day after a KPBS investigation into the city’s strategy toward homeless migrants aired on PBS NewsHour.
The spokeswoman could not immediately confirm if Lares’s resignation was connected to the airing of the story. A spokesman for the Tijuana mayor declined to comment on the exact reasons for Lares’s departure.
Hundreds of migrants are living in Tijuana’s storm drains. They've been trying to avoid police raids that sometimes prove fatal. The storm drains stem from the Tijuana River canal, which is flanked by highways. When migrants try to escape police, they are sometimes killed by passing cars.
Mayor Jorge Astiazarán has led the city’s efforts to evict migrants from the Tijuana River canal. Last spring, he ordered the placement of hundreds of migrants into drug rehabilitation centers, some against their will. Many of the migrants were using heroin and methamphetamine. A KPBS investigation published last year revealed that not all of the migrants placed in rehab were addicts.
Following the mayor’s lead, police chief Lares conducted weekly raids of the canal, and ordered fourteen all-terrain vehicles to place inside in the coming weeks. He was waiting for their arrival when KPBS interviewed him in January.
Lares attributed a recent decrease in petty crimes across Tijuana to the city’s strategy toward the homeless migrants. Lares said the migrants commit crimes such as robbery to finance their drug addictions.
When police capture them in the canal, they are placed in jail, on buses out of town or in drug rehabilitation centers.
“It’s a no man’s land,” he said of the canal.
A spokesman for the mayor said it is unknown who is going to replace Lares as police chief.