Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images.
Top immigration official faces consequences in Juárez. Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images.

Mexico’s head immigration official, among others, to face charges for the 40 lives lost in Ciudad Juarez migrant facility blaze

The Attorney General’s office is investigating Francisco Garduño, commissioner of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in Ciudad Juárez..


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Mexico’s Attorney General’s office announced late Tuesday night, April 11, that Francisco Garduño — commissioner of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in Ciudad Juárez — faces charges for the tragic blaze inside the migrant facility that killed 40 mostly Central Americans on March 27. 

The announcement was confirmed by Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador the following Wednesday morning, April 12. 

Prosecutors cited the head official’s negligent actions or lack thereof, that could have prevented the tragedy, in conjunction with recent findings that unveil a “pattern of responsibility,” within the office, as prosecutors described it. 

Garduño first took over in 2019 with pressure from the then-Trump Administration to do more about the influx of border crossings at the time. 

The agency has suffered for years from many complaints of human-rights violations and terrible conditions in the center for migrants. 

Despite the investigation into Garduño, few details about the case or his specific charges were revealed. AMLO also announced the head official would not be terminated — a battle between the powers of Mexico and the Mexican government. 

Historically, any charges against any Mexican officials have rarely resulted in prison time. 

“We are going to wait and we are going to make decisions in the [right] moment,” the President said. “His work is good in general; he has always had good performance,” despite “the misfortune,” on March 27. 

Garduño and AMLO have shared a friendship since when the President was Mexico City mayor. 

According to AMLO’s press conference on Wednesday, other officials within Garduño’s agency will also face charges for neglecting their duties that contributed to the tragedy — but prosecutors did not disclose their identities or the charges. 

This follows repeated pleas from within families of the victims, survivors, and advocates that prosecutors look further up the leadership ladder and not solely at just the three National Immigration Institute officials, two contracted security guards, and one migrant accused of igniting the fire, who were arrested Thursday, March 30, facing homicide charges. 

Prosecutors revealed that they acted fast after another fire took place at another detention center in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco that killed one and injured 14 in 2020 as the agency was aware of certain internal problems but allegedly failed to do anything about it. 

This is the first time that Mexico’s long-standing issues of corruption and horrid conditions at migrant facilities have ever been seriously addressed. 

That same Wednesday, 17 Guatemalan victims and six Hondurans were returned back to their home countries and families for proper burial. According to authorities, 19 of the 40 victims were Guatemalan and 11 more were injured. 

The two bodies are still in the process of being identified while 31 total bodies have made their way back. 


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