Mexico Arrests 12 Police Officers in Border Massacre Probe

Mexico arrested a dozen police officers in connection with the murder of 19 people near the northern border, the first mass killing in this administration in which authorities are accused of participating.

The officers were charged with homicide, abuse of authority and giving false statements, the Tamaulipas state prosecutor said late Tuesday. Interior Minister Olga Sanchez said the government is also investigating why a vehicle where the bodies were found had been previously seized by federal migration officials in December. At least two of the victims, whose bodies were burned, were those of migrants from Guatemala.

“We’ve had problems with many immigration officials, precisely with this type of violation of rights, and we have to recognize them to move forward,” Sanchez said in a Wednesday morning press briefing. “These violations of the human rights of migrants are absolutely unacceptable.”

The case is the latest mass homicide to capture Mexico’s national attention amid a surge in violence. For the administration of Lopez Obrador, the murders and alleged cover-up are a test of his campaign pledge to root out corruption. Early in his administration, the president established a commission to investigate the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College, and he has pledged that there would be no more such massacres at the hands of public forces.

The crime scene looked like it had been altered because of the absence of bullets or casings, despite the bullet marks on the vehicle where the bodies were found, Tamaulipas prosecutor Irving Barrios Mojica said.

So far, officials have determined that apart from two victims from Guatemala, there were another two from Mexico. The bodies were found about an hour and a half away from McAllen Texas. Identification of the other bodies is ongoing, with DNA being compared with that of possible family members in Guatemala.

Mexico has seen other mass killings of migrants in past administrations, including the murder of 72 people in San Fernando, Tamaulipas in 2010, another 193 people in the same town in 2011, and 49 in Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon in 2012.

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