FGR Opens Criminal Proceedings against INM Head Garduño
By KELIN DILLON
On Tuesday, April 11, Mexico’s Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) announced the opening of formal criminal proceedings against National Migration Institute (INM) Director Francisco Garduño for his role in the lethal March 27 fire at the INM’s Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua facility that left 40 Central American migrants dead and another 25 with injuries.
Following the death of numerous El Salvadorian citizens in the tragic Ciudad Juárez fire, El Salvador’s Vice Minister of Diaspora and Human Mobility Cindy Mariella Portal – who also characterized the incident as a “massacre” and “state crime” – requested the resignation of Garduño as leader of the INM and the subsequent prosecution for his crimes, demands that seem well be on their way to being met after the FGR’s announcement.
The FGR’s criminal proceedings accuse Garduño of failing to comply with his duties to monitor, protect and provide security to migrants under the care of the INM, allowing for crimes against migrants to be committed.
The FGR will reportedly also open criminal proceedings against two of Garduño’s fellow INM directors who have been determined to be responsible for the “easily avoidable” blaze, including the state of Chihuahua’s INM Commissioner Antonio González Guerrero.
According to the FGR, both Garduño and González Guerrero have been found to have “participated in alleged criminal conduct by failing to comply with their obligations to monitor, protect and provide security to the people and facilities under their charge, and promoting the crimes committed against migrants.”
The FGR has likewise launched criminal proceedings against a handful of other public servants who were “directly linked to the behaviors that generated the homicides and the injuries suffered by the victims of these crimes.”
Additional investigation into the incident by the FGR and Mexico’s Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF) showed that the INM’s recent history of internal failures – such as a deadly riot that took place an INM facility in Tabasco back in March 2020, during which Garduño was also INM director – “indicate a pattern of irresponsibility and omissions that has been repeated and that has been the cause of these unfortunate events.”
The investigation also reportedly revealed a criminal structure within the INM that was maintained even after the lethal Tabasco riot, despite years of recommendations from the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and the ASF otherwise.
“This whole series of illegal and negligent behaviors were evidently fundamental elements that led to the the crimes in question being committed,” added the FGR, going on to note failures in the training, supervision and control duties of the INM staffers and guards, as well as failures in the registration process of the migrants detained in INM facilities.
For his part, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) acknowledged the criminal proceedings against Garduño during his daily morning press conference on Wednesday, April 12, promising that there will be “no impunity” for those culpable for the Ciudad Juárez fire while shying away from admitting his close friend Garduño’s full responsibility for the incident.
“We still do not know the scope of criminality against Garduño, because there are several others involved,” said AMLO at the time. “The FGR still needs to report more on their investigation.”
López Obrador went on to defend Garduño’s work as the head of the INM as “very good so far,” saying he would not remove Garduño from his post until the FGR investigations have concluded while also noting that Garduño has yet to put his own resignation on the table.
Still, despite his defense of Garduño, AMLO reiterated his commitment to holding the responsible parties accountable for their part in the March 27 fire.
“Our conduct is not to protect anyone if there is a possibility that they have committed an infraction or a crime,” concluded López Obrador, though the ultimate outcome of the criminal proceedings against Garduño remains to be seen.
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