CIUDAD JUAREZ, CHIHUAHUA.- A federal judge in Mexico has charged another Venezuelan migrant over his alleged role in the March blaze at a Mexican detention center that left 40 dead and dozens more wounded.
The Mexican prosecutor’s office said on Thursday, June 8th, in a statement that a man identified as Carlos “C” was charged with homicide, injuries, and damages caused by the fire in a migrant detention facility in Juárez, across the border from El Paso.
Authorities identified him, along with another migrant from Venezuela, as one of the people who allegedly started the fire, which was the deadliest ever at a Mexican immigration facility.
The tragic blaze and its aftermath captured global attention earlier this year as loved ones across the hemisphere mourned and demanded justice for the victims.
It also sparked controversy and intense criticism about the treatment of migrants by both Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and American authorities, which have constantly pressured the Mexican government to ward off rising arrivals of people from across Latin America and the Caribbean.
On March 27, a small number of the migrants being held in the detention facility started a fire in their cell, apparently to protest conditions. Their highly flammable mattresses quickly filled the area with smoke, and guards fled without unlocking their cells, security camera videos show.
In response, authorities have opened criminal proceedings against Francisco Garduño, head of Mexico’s National Migration Institute, and another director for the unlawful exercise of public service and failure to perform their duties, which resulted in the death by asphyxiation of many migrants.
Authorities also detained six other immigration officers, a private security guard, and the other migrant, charging them with homicide and for other injuries caused by the fire. Following the fire, NMI closed small- and medium-sized detention facilities similar to the one in Juárez, and it began a review of conditions in larger facilities.