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Local ‘Grupo Beta’ leader in Juarez charged for migrant deaths; family members protest for his freedom

JUAREZ, Chihuahua (KVIA) -- Juan Carlos Meza is the head of the Beta Group in Juarez. Wednesday he was charged in connection to the fire that killed 40 migrants and injured dozens more in late March.

In a morning news conference and in a peaceful protest, Meza's family and local religious groups gathered to demand his freedom.

According to his supporters, Meza was not at the building the night of the fire at the National Institute of Migration. They claim he was stationed in Tornillo that night.

'Grupo Beta' is a rescue group that operates along the border on the Mexican side. Their primary function is to help migrants and other people who become injured in border areas.

Several Mexican officials are facing charges in connection to the fire. Others could still face new charges. Meza, meanwhile, is already behind bars. A warrant for his arrest was issued earlier this month.

Meza's family argues the Beta Group has nothing to do with the detention of migrants and where they were locked up the night of the fire.

According to other sources, however, Meza is been charged with negligence and with not being able to keep safe people inside the National Institute of Migration.

Investigators say the building lacked safety measures to prevent fires from happening.

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Heriberto Perez

Heriberto Perez Lara reports for ABC-7 on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.


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