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Prosecutors probe Mexico immigration chief over fire that killed 40 migrants

By:
Reuters
Updated: Apr 12, 2023, 16:30 GMT+00:00

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The head of Mexico's immigration agency, Francisco Garduno, is under investigation over a deadly fire last month at a migrant detention center in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday.

Mexico launches new measures to deter illegal crossings at its southern border with Guatemala

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -The head of Mexico’s immigration agency, Francisco Garduno, is under investigation over a deadly fire last month at a migrant detention center in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday.

The Mexican attorney general’s office said on Tuesday it had launched a probe against the heads of the National Migration Institute (INM), without giving their full names.

“There’s an investigation which includes (Garduno) in the unfortunate case regarding the migrant lives lost in Ciudad Juarez, we still don’t know how far-reaching it is, or what he is accused of,” Lopez Obrador said in a regular news conference.

The fire, which authorities say began after one or more of the migrants set alight mattresses as a protest, claimed the lives of 40 male migrants, most of them from Central America.

“Today we discussed the possibility of some being accused of negligence, others of homicide,” Lopez Obrador said, noting prosecutors have yet to give more details of the probe.

Lopez Obrador said Tuesday the migrants were unable to escape from the facility located near the U.S. border because the person holding the key to their cell was absent.

A number of arrests, including INM agents and a private security guard, have already been made over the blaze.

The prosecutors’ statement Tuesday accused top immigration officials of failing to “watch over, protect and ensure the safety of the people and facilities in their charge.”

One high-ranking INM official, Antonio Molina, as well as the agency’s representative in the state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez lies, are also under investigation, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

INM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Chihuahua official, Salvador Gonzalez, said he would cooperate with the investigation.

(Reporting by Kylie MadryEditing by Dave Graham, William Maclean)

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