MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s INM immigration agency announced Thursday the dismissal of all its personnel across seven states after undocumented Central American migrants accused migration officials of being in cahoots with organized crime.
The purge is being carried out in the states of Mexico, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz, the main corridors for migrants en route to the United States, the interior ministry said.
Newly appointed INM directors in those states will have to conduct an immediate “purge of personnel working” at state offices and “strengthen the immigration operation with strict respect for migrants’ human rights,” the ministry said in a statement.
Government officials told Efe that the overhaul has begun with the heads of the state delegations but includes all workers, although the latter can later be reincorporated if they pass an obligatory screening process.
The purge comes after several Central American migrants rescued last month by army soldiers alleged that INM agents had kidnapped them when they were traveling by bus to the United States and handed them over to organized-crime elements in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas.
After the complaint was filed, six INM agents fingered by the migrants were arrested and turned over to the Attorney General’s Office, which has assumed control of the investigation.
Human rights groups have repeatedly said that undocumented Central American migrants who try to reach the United States via Mexico are victims not only of organized crime but also corrupt officials.
The INM on Thursday pledged to act in adherence with the law and with full respect for migrants’ human rights, as well as immediately respond to any complaint about irregularities or crimes committed by its personnel.
Official figures indicate that some 300,000 undocumented migrants – mostly from Central America – attempt to cross Mexico each year en route to the United States.
The migrants’ journey through Mexico is fraught with danger, as they frequently are extorted by corrupt authorities or kidnapped by criminal gangs that either demand a ransom for their release or forcibly recruit them as hit men.
Last August, a group of 72 mostly Central American migrants were killed in Tamaulipas – a massacre blamed on Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned outlaws.
Investigators suspect the victims, from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil, were slain by members of the notorious drug cartel after refusing to work for the gang as couriers or enforcers. EFE