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Mexico announces first arrests for the fire that left 39 migrants dead in Ciudad Juárez


Six arrest warrants were issued against three immigration agents, two security guards, and a migrant suspected of starting the fire at a detention center. The private company that was supposed to protect the migrants will be fined and its contract with the government revoked, authorities said.

The Mexican authorities announced this Thursday that they issued six arrest warrants -five of them executed until the afternoon- for the fire that claimed 39 lives in a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juárez last Monday night.

Sara Irene Herrerías, head of the Specialized Prosecutor for Human Rights in Mexico, specified at a press conference that the arrest warrants were issued against "two government officials, two private security guards and the person (migrant) who started the fire ”.

[Migrants who were saved from dying in the fire in Ciudad Juárez recount the hours before the tragedy]

“Those people are already in the hands of justice,” Herrerías said.

For her part, the Secretary of Security of Mexico, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, reported that "the process began to revoke the permit of the

company Grupo de Seguridad Privada Camsa SA de CV [which managed the detention center]

and impose an economic fine on it." ” and that “starting tomorrow [Friday] elements of the Government will assume control of the immigration station in Ciudad Juárez.”

The statements come after a nearly 40-second video emerged this week where uniforms from the private company in charge of the security of migrants in that detention center seem not to help them get out of their cells while the fire spreads through the facility. .

Ana Marina López, wife of Guatemalan migrant Bacilio Sutuj Saravia, one of the victims of a fire at a migrant detention center in Mexico, cries during an interview at her home in San Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. .Moises Castillo / AP

The private company

had been contracted by the National Institute of Migration (INM) to guard its detention centers in various states


The authorities identified David Vicente Salazar Gasca as the main partner and legal representative and George Mcphail as a shareholder.

The company's offices are located in the Hipódromo Condesa neighborhood, in the Cuauhtémoc mayor's office, in Mexico City.

“The partners, representatives and attorneys of this company have already been identified.

From the review of the file, a first irregularity was derived: the company had registered only four security elements [when it had promised to provide 503 in 23 states] and did not have permits to carry weapons.

The prosecutor said that an indictment hearing against the suspects will take place on Thursday.

In addition to the 39 dead,

27 migrants were hospitalized as of Thursday

, authorities said.

Mexico has already identified the dead, most of them from Guatemala, and said that it is in contact with the corresponding consulates for the delivery of the bodies.

By declining to give more details about the investigation, the prosecutor stated that “we are going to protect the rights of the victims and also of the accused.

We have to do each diligence in accordance with the law.

If we do not do so, our arrest warrants will not be well founded."

The forensic medical service collapses in Ciudad Juárez after the fire at a migrant center

March 30, 202304:29

For his part, Rodríguez, assured in the press conference that "we will not stop until those responsible have a strong sanction, the one they deserve by law."

He emphasized that from the Mexican government "we are not going to hide anything, we are not going to protect anyone, there will be no impunity for anyone."

The Mexican government promises a harsh response

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced earlier on Thursday in his morning press conference that his government authorities would report in the afternoon "on the punishment of those allegedly responsible" for the deadly fire.

"I spoke with the prosecutor to ask him not to have any kind of consideration other than to do justice. That they act with professionalism and absolute freedom and that impunity be ruled out, that there be no impunity, that there be justice," said López Obrador.

Activists protest outside a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, on March 29, 2023. Christian Chavez / AP

The Mexican authorities announced on Wednesday that they are investigating the case as a homicide and that they have identified eight officials and security guards at the center (members of a private company) as alleged perpetrators, as well as a migrant "named by the migrants themselves. that they declared” as a possible initiator of the fire. 

[Family members of Guatemalan migrants express grief after the loss they suffered from the fire]

The actions of several security guards at the immigration center have caused outrage, after some of them were seen on video apparently doing nothing to get detained migrants out of cells as flames and smoke spread through the facility. .

"They were not able to open a gate

 (...) It is part of this investigation to find out who did not allow these people to leave. Obviously there is a serious crime," said Rodríguez.

"Justice": the cry of the relatives of victims

Meanwhile, the families of migrants who were interned in the Ciudad Juárez detention center await news of their loved ones from their countries of origin.

Ana Marina López told The Associated Press news agency that the last time she heard from her husband, Bacilio Sutuj Saravia, a 51-year-old Guatemalan migrant, he told her that Mexican immigration authorities had detained him at the US border. , two days before the tragedy.

Interior of the Ciudad Juárez immigration center hours before the deadly fire on March 27, 2023.Noticias Telemundo

Although López explained that her husband's name appeared on a government list with the names of the victims of the fire, they did not clarify if he was among the dead or hospitalized.

What she has left her in limbo.

"It can't happen like this. They are people, they are human," he said.

"What I ask for is justice, that they are not animals to be treated like this."

[“This fire is the result of the pressure cooker that Juárez has turned into on the immigration issue,” experts denounce]

López learned of the fire from television reports.

Her children had been unable to contact Sutuj after a brief call on Saturday saying he had been caught.

"That the authorities are there watching over them and taking care of them, not that they leave them locked up and flee and (leave them) burning, that does hurt me," López lamented.

In the coffee-growing area of ​​Honduras, three families waited for news of three loved ones who had embarked on the journey to the United States.

This young Colombian was detained hours before in the immigration center where he died

March 30, 202301:45

On Tuesday, the names of the three men - Dikson Aron Córdova, Edin Josue Umaña and Jesús Adony Alvarado - were on the list of victims, with no details on whether they were still alive.

"It's hard, because these blows, no, they are unbearable, although one wants to be strong," said José Córdova Ramos, father of Córdova, 30, who added that the guards "did not want to do anything" to try to save the migrants trapped in the burning center.

"A life lesson"

Another woman from Venezuela, Stefany Arango Morillo, was also waiting in Ciudad Juárez for news of her brother, Stefan Arango Morillo, who was sent to a local hospital in serious condition after the fire.

Morillo desperately searched for his 32-year-old brother, fearing the worst when he received a text message from his cell phone from a private hospital.

He was alive, but his injuries from smoke inhalation made it nearly impossible for him to speak, according to the AP.

Stefany Arango Morillo, a migrant from Maracaibo, Venezuela, right, speaks with family members by cell phone from a public hospital in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Morgan Lee / AP

The brothers are part of a growing number of Venezuelans who are making the long journey from South America to the US-Mexico border in the hope of seeking asylum in the northern country.

"This is like a life lesson," Stefany said.

"And believe me, I know that I have faith that my brother is going to get out of there and also continue fighting for our dream."

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-30

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