Two federal officials say Mexican authorities have arrested a second migrant for his alleged involvement in a fire at a border jail in March that killed 40 migrants and injured dozens
FromMARÍA VERZA Associated Press
MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities have arrested a second migrant for his alleged involvement in a fire at a border jail in March that killed 40 migrants and injured dozens, two federal officials said on Friday.
One of the officers, both of whom asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the arrest, said the Venezuelan was arrested Thursday night at a hotel in Ciudad Juárez where federal authorities were holding migrants discharged from hospitals.
On March 27, some of the migrants being held at the detention center across the border from El Paso, Texas, set fire to their cell, apparently in protest at the conditions. Their highly flammable mattresses quickly filled the area with smoke and the guards fled without unlocking their cell.
Most of the victims were Central Americans and Venezuelans.
The head of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, Francisco Garduño, and another senior official face charges of failing to fulfill their duties to protect detained migrants. Despite requests from prosecutors to remove them from their posts, they remained free and in their jobs.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a longtime friend of Garduños, has defended him.
Six other immigration officers have been charged with murder and assault, including a retired army officer who is the chief immigration officer in the state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juárez is located. These officers, along with a private security officer at the facility and another Venezuelan migrant also charged with arson, were held in jail awaiting trial.
Prosecutors are also investigating possible corruption in the establishment’s private security mandate and “a pattern of irresponsibility and repeated omissions” on the part of the agency over the years.
After the fire, which was the deadliest on record, at a Mexican immigration facility, the National Immigration Institute closed its small and medium-sized detention centers across the country and began reviewing conditions in the largest.