Arrest warrants issued in connection to deadly Juárez fire that killed 39 migrants
JUÁREZ, Mexico (KTEP) - Mexican authorities arrested five individuals in connection to a fire that led to the deaths of 39 immigrants, one of the deadliest events ever in one of the country’s immigration detention centers.
Sara Irene Herrerías, Mexico’s lead prosecutor in Human Rights cases, said six arrest warrants were issued on Thursday for various individuals allegedly tied to the fire at the Downtown immigration facility. Three of the suspects are employees with the Instituto Nacional de Migración, Mexico’s immigration agency.
Suspects also include two private security guards and a person alleged to have started the fire. Authorities have not announced the arrest of the sixth person.
“It’s the responsibility of public servants with the Instituto Nacional de Inmigración to protect sheltered immigrants at processing centers,” Herrería said during a press conference in Mexico City.
Each individual may face charges of causing bodily injury and death, according to Herrerías.
On Monday, 39 migrants died after a fire broke out at an immigration detention center in Downtown Juárez. Firefighters and ambulances arrived at the facility and were able to recover 28 individuals suffering from injuries.
Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blamed immigrants at the center for starting the fire by setting a mattress on fire. Security camera video emerged on social media from inside the center during the fire. The video’s authenticity has been affirmed by the Mexican government.
It appeared to show immigration employees walking away from migrants locked in cells as the fire quickly raged throughout the facility. There was a total of 83 people inside the facility at the time, including immigration employees, according to the Insituto Nacional de Migración.
In addition to the arrest warrants, Rosa Icela Rodriguez, Mexico’s secretary of public safety, said the federal government is also canceling a contract with the private security firm CAMSA. The firm provided its services at the center.
The public safety secretary says 48 federal protective service agents will replace the firm.
In Juárez, migrants and activists alike are mourning the loss of so many in the immigration detention center. And, for some migrants, friends who died on Monday were like family after they’d gone through journeys together seeking a new life in the U.S.
Javier Calvillo of Casa de Migrante, a large shelter in Juárez for migrants, said U.S. immigration policies have complicated migrants’ ability to make asylum claims. He also said migrants’ access to technology to apply for asylum in the U.S. while in Juárez is limited.
Calvillo said migrants are subject to assaults and harassment on their way to the border.
“I think that makes the situation a delicate one,” he said. “The situation migrants live in is a tense one.”
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