The Prosecutor General's Office of Mexico said that it arrested five people in connection with a fire at an immigration center in Ciudad Juarez that killed 40 people. File Photo by Luis Torres/EPA-EFE
April 12 (UPI) -- The Mexican government has started a criminal investigation into a fire at an immigration center in Ciudad Juarez, filing charges against two directors of the National Immigration Institute on Tuesday.
The Prosecutor General's Office of Mexico said in a statement the directors, identified in the report as Francisco N. and Antonio N., "engaged in alleged criminal conduct by failing to comply with their obligations to monitor, protect and provide security to people and facilities."
It added that criminal proceedings were also launched against four additional public servants identified as Salvador N., Juan N., Cecilia N and Eduardo N.
The fire at the Provisional Immigration Center, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, killed 40 migrants and injured 25 others. Investigators said they arrested five people in all connected with the investigation. That included a staffer at a private security company and the person who allegedly started the fire.
"The opinions of the Superior Audit Office of the Federation in recent years once again point out, with complete clarity, the faults and omissions that continue to be committed in the INM; and they indicate a pattern of irresponsibility and omissions that has been repeated and that has been the cause of these unfortunate events already mentioned," the office said.
Prosecutors said a similar incident at the INM immigration center in Tenosique, Tabasco, on March 31, 2020, left one person dead and 14 injured.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said last month that investigators blamed protesting immigrants for starting a fire. Obrador had said some of the migrants put small mattresses at the door of the shelter and set them on fire "as a form of protest" after they learned that they might be deported.
The institute said 68 men from Central and South America were staying at the immigration center at the time of the fire.