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Arrests made in deadly fire at Mexico detention center

2023-03-30T22:45:30Z

Five people have been arrested for alleged roles in the deaths of 39 people at a Mexican migrant detention center this week after a fire broke out, authorities said Thursday.

Six warrants were issued against three immigration institute officers, two private security officers and the person who allegedly started the fire, Sara Irene Herrerias, the head of the attorney general office’s human rights unit, said without clarifying which arrest was pending.

A private security company, Grupo de Seguridad Privada CAMSA SA de CV, was responsible for handling security matters at the center in the northern border city of Juarez, said Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez.

A number of irregularities were found when authorities began looking into the company on Wednesday, Rodriguez said, adding that the government asked Mexico’s immigration institute to withdraw its contract with the company.

The company was contracted to have hundreds of employees working across 23 states, but reported having just four employees, Rodriguez said.

Federal agents will take over security in the state of Chihuahua, where the center is located, Rodriguez said.

The company’s failure to comply with its contract came out of failures by public servants, including in the security ministry, Rodriguez said.

Herrerias declined to comment on whether executives of the private security company would be arrested.

Rodriguez had said Wednesday that prosecutors were investigating eight people who could be involved in the incident, including federal and state agents.

Video of the alleged incident, which Rodriguez made reference to, shows men kicking on the bars of a locked cell as it filled with smoke and several people in uniform walking past without attempting to open the door.

Authorities have said they believe the fire, which killed male immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela and Colombia, was started by migrants setting mattresses on fire as a form of protest.

The fire is one of the deadliest migrant incidents in recent years. Asked whether Mexico would change the length migrants were held in detention centers, Rodriguez said authorities “were looking at the issue.”

Related Galleries:

Fatima Pavon, 12, a migrant girl from Venezuela take part in a vigil outside the office of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in memory of the victims of a fire that broke out late on Monday at a migrant detention center, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 28, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Migrants stand near the border wall after crossing the Rio Bravo river with the intention of turning themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol agents, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
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