Mexico City, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- Mexico’s government said Monday that immigration agents will be investigated for their alleged involvement in a massacre in a rural area of the country’s northeast.
News of the probe comes 10 days after the charred remains of 19 people – among them Guatemalan citizens – were discovered in the state of Tamaulipas.
Mexico’s government secretary (interior minister), Olga Sanchez Cordero, made the announcement after the press reported that a pick-up truck found at the crime scene and containing the bodies of the victims had earlier been impounded by the National Institute of Migration (INM) in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon.
“All of this is obviously being investigated. We’ll even see if there was some responsibility on the part of employees or public servants of the National Institute of Migration itself. That’s an issue,” Sanchez Cordero said in a press conference at the National Palace.
The 19 charred bodies were discovered on Jan. 22 after an anonymous call alerted Tamaulipas authorities to the presence of a pair of pick-up trucks that had been burned and abandoned on a country road in the Camargo municipality.
Tamaulipas’ Attorney General’s Office confirmed Sunday that two of the victims have been identified as Guatemalan citizens and two others as Mexicans, although Guatemalan authorities suspect that most of the victims were migrants from the western towns of Comitancillo and San Marcos.
The head of the Government Secretariat, which oversees the INM, acknowledged that authorities already were aware of the existence of the charred pick-up truck containing the bodies but will investigate why agents had impounded the vehicle.
“We’re going to investigate these facts pertaining to how or why the National Institute of Migration had this truck and if there was any responsibility on the part of a public servant or not,” she said.
According to witness statements gathered by Efe, a commando of Cartel del Noreste (CDN) gunmen arrived in Camargo in pursuit of a leader of the rival Gulf cartel, the criminal organization that has long held sway in Tamaulipas.
After a clash, the CDN gunmen presumably conducted a wide-ranging search for that rival gang leader and came upon – and subsequently killed – 19 purported Guatemalan citizens at a house in the town of Santa Anita, later abandoning their bodies at a spot near the border with the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon.
The United Nations says the crime calls to mind the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants in that same region, although Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration says the comparison is not valid because “there won’t be impunity” this time.
The government is communicating with the victims’ families via Guatemala’s embassy, according to Sanchez Cordero, who promised a “very solid” investigation.
“There has been progress in the investigation,” she said, noting that the Foreign Affairs Secretariat is in permanent contact with Guatemalan authorities to “learn about some of the events in the lead-up to (the crime).”