Mexican immigration agent charged in Juárez migrant center fire free on bail


Forty migrants died in a fire at the National Migration Institute in Juárez on Monday. The bodies of the dead were wrapped in mylar blankets outside the facility while dozens of injured were rushed to area hospitals. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

By Blanca Carmona / La Verdad

CIUDAD JUAREZ – One year after his arrest, a National Migration Institute agent identified as Eduardo A.M., who is charged in the death of 40 migrants in the March 2023 fire in Juárez, has been released from prison and placed on parole while he awaits trial.

Federal Judge Juan José Chávez Montes approved Eduardo’s attorney’s request that he be placed on parole under a bond of 1.5 million pesos – or nearly $90,000 – and gave him a month to deposit the bail. Eduardo served as head of material resources at the migration institute when the fire occurred.

Among other conditions of his release, Eduardo must also report to the court regularly, and isn’t allowed to leave the city or be near the border.

“(The change) represents the application of the law, the fact that it has due process, justice, even if it is not prompt, was expeditious. He lasted practically a year in jail,” said José Ubaldo Solís, one of Eduardo’s attorneys.

Screen captures from security camera video show an overcrowded men’s cell at the Juarez migrant detention center on March 27, 2023, before some of the men placed their vinyl mats against the cell’s wrought iron fence and then smoke filled the center.

Eduardo was released from prison on Saturday, April 13, jail records show.

In all, 11 people were charged in the incident – including eight National Migration Institute, or INM, officials, a private security guard and two Venezuelan migrants.

INM Commissioner Francisco Garduño Yáñez – who holds the highest-ranking position in the Institute – remains free and on the job. INM agent Antonio Molina Díaz has allegedly been on the run since May 2023.

Eduardo, who was responsible for supplies and other resources at the detention center, is the first who had been jailed awaiting trial to be granted parole.

Among his duties was ensuring the center remained smoke-free and that nobody smoked in the building, the judge said during a hearing, citing a 2020 fire in a migrant detention center in Tabasco after which smoking was prohibited in all INM stations.

Two migrants are accused of setting fire to vinyl sleeping mats, allegedly with lighters.

Eduardo was arrested on April 13, 2023. He was charged with homicide, causing bodily injuries and failure to conduct his duties as a public servant.

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