12 state police officers were being questioned Wednesday following their arrests in connection with the killings of 19 people, including Guatemalan migrants, whose bodies were found shot and burned near the U.S. border late in January.
Tamaulipas state Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica announced Tuesday night that all 12 officers were in custody and face charges of homicide, abuse of authority and making false statements.
The killings revived memories of the gruesome 2010 massacre of 72 migrants near the town of San Fernando in the same gang-ridden state. Those killings were done by a drug cartel, while the Jan. 22 slayings allegedly were carried out by law enforcement.
“In the aforementioned acts of Jan. 22, at least 12 state police officers participated,” Barrios Mojica said.
The attorney general did not say what motive the officers might have had, though corrupt local and state police in Mexico are often in the pay of drug cartels.
Cartels in Mexico often charge migrant smugglers for crossing their territory, and kidnap or kill migrants whose smugglers have paid a rival gang.
The bodies were found piled in a charred pickup truck in Camargo, across the Rio Grande from Texas, in an area that has been bloodied for years by turf battles between the remnants of the Gulf cartel and the old Zetas cartel.
Another burned vehicle was found at the scene and authorities say it had been seized by immigration officials in a raid that detained 66 migrants on their way to the U.S. In December, one of the four victims so far identified in the January massacre claimed the vehicle from immigration authorities.
On Wednesday, the National Immigration Institute announced it had fired eight immigration agents from the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon, apparently because they had seized the vehicle but later let it go.
Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero had said immigration agents tied to the case had been fired, though she provided no details on their number or their alleged role.
“These violations of the rights of migrants are absolutely unacceptable,” Sánchez Cordero said. She said no member of the security forces or immigration authority was above the law.
Authorities have said four of the dead have been identified so far — two Guatemalans and two Mexicans. Their names have not been released by officials, but relatives of one of the dead Mexicans said he worked as an immigrant trafficker.
Of the 19 bodies examined by experts, 16 were found to be males, one was confirmed as female and the two others were so badly burned their gender had not yet been determined.
The forensic results confirmed the fears of families in a rural Indigenous farming community in Guatemala who have said they lost contact with 13 migrants as they traveled toward the United States.
Guatemala’s foreign affairs ministry said late Tuesday that it was working closely with Mexican authorities. In a statement, it asked that “the full weight of law be applied to those responsible for such unfortunate events that have Guatemalan families mourning.”
The truck holding the bodies had 113 bullet impacts, but authorities were confused by the fact that almost no spent shell casings were found at the scene.
It’s sad but it happens all the time and it’s surprising that they were caught.
Categories: World News