CIUDAD JUAREZ, CHIHUAHUA.- On Tuesday, April 25th, the head of Mexico’s immigration agency was arraigned on charges that he failed in his responsibility to protect those in his custody when 40 migrants died in a fire at a border detention center last month.
Federal prosecutors said that there are video recordings showing that private security guards in the facility had asked immigration agents for permission to release the migrants when the fire started but were denied.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Francisco Garduño, the head of the Mexican Immigration Institute, was responsible for the safety of the country’s immigration facilities and should have closed those that did not meet safety requirements.
A migrant allegedly started a fire inside the Juárez detention center on March 27. Security cameras inside the facility showed smoke quickly filling the cell holding 68 male migrants, but no one with keys attempted to release them.
In addition to the 40 killed, more than two dozen were injured in the fire.
Garduño has not stepped down from his post, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has voiced his support. The president appointed Garduño to run the agency in 2019 while under pressure from then-U.S. President Donald Trump to take a more aggressive stance against migrants crossing Mexico.
Garduño had previously been in charge of Mexico’s prisons.
Prosecutors also spoke of nefarious dealings inside the facility and some migrants in their statements recounted how they had been told they would be freed if they paid $1,000.
So far, the highest-ranking official headed to trial is the immigration agency’s delegate in the state of Chihuahua, retired Navy Rear Adm. Salvador González. He was charged with homicide and causing injury by omission, among other charges.
Prosecutors had previously said that they identified “a pattern of irresponsibility and repeated omissions” in the immigration institute.
Source: El Financiero