JUCHITAN, Mexico – Mexican Indians in the southern state of Oaxaca have handed over a Spaniard they had been detaining for allegedly stealing earthquake aid.
They turned over Ivan Mouriz Collado to that state’s Attorney General’s Office on Friday, 11 days after detaining him for allegedly defrauding them out of 1.8 million pesos ($96,670) in funds for rebuilding houses damaged by a series of powerful September 2017 earthquakes.
Inhabitants of the village of Chicapa de Castro began holding Mouriz on July 30.
The state’s deputy attorney general, Mario Alberto Martinez Perez, said Mouriz Collado of Valencia, Spain, had not filed a complaint for deprivation of liberty.
“They’re going to free him even though he robbed us, deceived us, defrauded us, took our money ... left us in the street and isn’t going to pay,” Leonel Santiago, an evangelical pastor who housed the Spaniard for five months when he first arrived in the village, said of his fellow residents.
The indigenous residents of Chicapa de Castro told authorities that Mouriz collected aid cards that the federal government had distributed to local families and were to be used to pay for building supplies and services.
They gave those cards to the Spaniard because he had promised them he would ensure their homes were rebuilt.
The families in Chicapa de Castro decided to hand Mouriz over to the authorities when it appeared the Spaniard might try to take his own life.
After learning that his family would not send the 5,000 euros ($5,700) the local inhabitants were demanding in compensation, Mouriz began running down the street and shouting for people to kill him.
“We returned him to the house and he later tried to hurl himself at some metal rods, and we don’t want to be blamed for his death,” Santiago said in explaining the decision to turn him over to the authorities.
According to the pastor, Mouriz said upon arriving in the village that he was a member of a social-aid organization and was bringing plans for rebuilding earthquake-damaged homes.
The Spaniard collected a number of aid cards valued at thousands of pesos apiece from earthquake victim but never carried out any reconstruction work, Santiago said.
Oaxaca was one of the states hardest-hit by a trio of earthquakes in September 2017 that were felt in central and southern Mexico and are blamed for 471 deaths.