Two prominent advocates for migrants’ rights were arrested for human trafficking Wednesday, while federal finance officials yesterday blocked the bank accounts of 26 people allegedly involved in the same crime.
Irineo Mujica, director of a migrant advocacy organization that has helped several large migrant caravans cross Mexico, was arrested in Sonoyta, Sonora, at about the same time activist Cristóbal Sánchez was detained outside his home in the Mexico City borough of Xochimilco.
The federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) said in a statement that Federal Police arrested the two men after warrants were issued by a judge in Chiapas.
The department said it received complaints in April and May from Honduran nationals against two Mexicans who, in exchange for payment, promised to bring them into the country and take them to the northern border in order to illegally enter the United States.
Mujica, who heads Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders) in Mexico, faces charges of illegally transporting migrants, including children and adolescents, while Sánchez is accused of bringing undocumented migrants into the country, the FGR said.
Both men were transferred to a prison in Tapachula, Chiapas, on Wednesday afternoon.
Pueblos Sin Fronteras condemned the arrests in a statement on social media.
“They were arrested by a Mexican government that promised to defend human rights but in reality is bending to the pressure of the anti-immigrant government of the United States,” it said.
“It’s not a coincidence that Irineo and Cristóbal were arrested the same day as the Mexican secretary of foreign relations, Marcelo Ebrard, met in Washington D.C. with United States Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo within the framework of the threats to increase tariffs on Mexican products . . . “
The advocacy group said that both men have defended the rights of migrants for more than a decade.
A day after the arrests, the finance department said in a statement that the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) had frozen the accounts of 26 people for their alleged participation in the trafficking of migrants and the illegal organization of migrant caravans.
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