05/13/11 – The National Institute of Migration (El Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) announced Thursday the firing of 7 of its regional directors following accusations that the officials had participated in the kidnapping of migrants and later turning them over to organized crime groups. The regional directors were from the states of Mexico, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz, “the main corridors for migrants en route to the United States,” stated the Latin American Herald Tribune quoting Mexico’s Interior Ministry.
According to INM Commissioner Salvador Beltrán del Río, the firing of the 7 regional directors this week is part of a larger national effort to target and eliminate corruption and illicit activity within the agency. He added that the new regional directors “will have as an immediate task carrying out a cleanup of personnel who work for them, to strengthen migration operations with strict respect for migrants’ human rights,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
In response to the announcement Thursday, Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora asserted that the National Institute of Migration is “not a refuge of criminals.” Rather, as quoted in Reforma, “it is an institution that protects the best interests of those it finds in a state of vulnerability.” According to Beltrán del Río, a new plan for the structure and organization of the INM is to be revealed this Sunday.
Migrants are increasingly becoming the target of drug trafficking organizations looking to either extort them for money or recruit them as members. This incident comes on the heels of last month’s investigation and detention of 6 INM agents in Tamaulipas accused of similarly participating in the kidnapping of migrants for criminal organizations. The Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) has taken the lead on the case.