A top Mexican immigration official has been arrested over a fire at a detention center last month that killed 40 migrants, according to federal authorities.
Salvador Gonzalez Guerrero, head of the National Immigration Institute (INM) in the state of Chihuahua, was taken into police custody on Sunday night, according to the Ministry of Public Safety’s arrest records.
Mexican authorities have accused the people in charge of the facility in Ciudad Juarez, on the border with US city El Paso, of doing nothing to evacuate the migrants, who were locked in their cell during the blaze.
Security camera footage showed no one came to their aid. Gonzalez Guerrero is accused of having given the order to keep the cell closed, according to local media reports.
Thirty-nine people died of asphyxiation, including 18 Guatemalans, seven Salvadorans, seven Venezuelans, six Hondurans and one Colombian.
A 40th victim, whose nationality is not known, died after being taken to hospital. Authorities believe the disaster began when one of the detainees set fire to his mattress to protest his possible deportation.
Three immigration officials, a private security guard and the migrant accused of starting the blaze have also been detained as part of a homicide investigation.
An arrest warrant has been issued for INM commissioner Francisco Garduno Yanez, who reportedly remains at large. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed last month that there would be “no impunity” for those found responsible.