ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Jeffrey Padilla is the leader of the notorious Los Padillas gang and a convicted killer. He was released from prison Tuesday and had camera crews following him.
Those cameras are part of a documentary crew that will be following Padilla for the next year.
Padilla was sent to prison for two murders and suspected of many more crimes. He was arrested in 1999 for killing Fernando Velasquez execution style and putting a hit on Julius Sanchez.
He was officially released Tuesday after serving 17 years of a 25-year prison sentence and was welcomed back into the real world by cameras.
“I wanted to get my message out. I ain’t who I used to be and it is a long time of changing,” Padilla said.
A British documentary-maker met Padilla while working in Las Cruces on the popular A&E series, Behind Bars: Rookie Year.
“Jeff and I met and we would talk every day and he would tell me about his life and growing up, and slowly I was more and more enchanted by what he had gone through,” documentary film-maker Jennifer Ducker said.
From there, the two agreed to work on a documentary together when he got out.
Now released from prison, some people are skeptical the film production will glorify the life Padilla lived that landed him behind bars.
“I ain’t here to tell people there was one day I did this, and then I come more to the conclusion by my crimes that I committed is why I had to suffer,” Padilla said.
Not everyone is happy about this documentary, but many of those KRQE News 13 spoke to were afraid to speak out publicly, saying they still believe Padilla is a dangerous man.
Padilla asked his victims’ families for forgiveness while speaking in court almost two decades ago.
Now, he says he is a changed man.
“I am sure people have made up their mind about me, but I would ask them to just keep a note that people do change,” Padilla said.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the Albuquerque Police Department for comment.
APD spokesperson Simon Drobik said, “It’s unfortunate that a production company would choose to highlight an individual that caused so much destruction in our community. Highlighting his life undermines the hard work that officers and detectives achieved at the time to put him behind bars.”
Padilla was originally released from prison in 2013 on probation, but after three probation violations he was sent back in 2015 to finish his sentence.