Twelve Tamaulipas state police officers are in custody for homicide, abuse of authority and falsifying information in the deaths of 19 people found in two burned vehicles in Camargo last month.
State Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica told a press conference Tuesday that his office is pursuing two lines of investigating in determining the cause of the January 22 killings: one is related to known battles for control over the region by organized crime groups, and the other to migrant smuggling, which is common in the area.
Other vehicles that were also carrying Guatemalan and Salvadoran undocumented migrants, whose job was to provide security to the transport of the migrant smugglers, are also believed to have been involved in the incident, Barrios said.
One of the two vehicles involved the killings, a pickup truck where the bodies were found, had been struck with 113 bullets and was found with three rifles and ammunition inside, according to the media outlet Animal Político.
Some of the 19 bodies — 16 of which have been identified as male and one as female, with two too badly burned to be identified — have now been confirmed to be migrants from Guatemala while two were identified as Mexican.
Authorities are also investigating a link to the state of Nuevo León. The other vehicle found at the scene, a Toyota Sequoia, had Nuevo León plates and was determined by the Nuevo León Attorney General’s Office to have been involved in another case involving migrants: it was confiscated on December 6 by municipal authorities in Escobedo at a home where 66 foreign migrants were being held captive.
Escobedo Police Chief Hermengildo Lara told the newspaper Proceso that the confiscated vehicle and the 66 migrants were subsequently turned over to officials with the National Immigration Institute. The federal government is investigating his claim, according to Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero.
“We know about that vehicle and that the National Immigration Institute may have confiscated it,” she said. She also said that federal officials were investigating the INM office in Escobedo.