A group of migrants was asleep when men with guns burst through the door of the shelter they were staying at in Nogales, Sonora, witnesses said.
“They broke down the door and using bad words, told us to get up,” said a 53-year-old from Central Mexico, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. “They put us face down and went through our pockets. They got my wallet and took 800 pesos (about $60).”
Twenty migrants, mostly from Central America, were staying Thursday night at La Roca, a popular Christian shelter for Central Americans trying to get to the United States or who were just deported.
The armed group included 19 men in ski masks and a woman who appeared to be leading the operation. They wore police uniforms and were riding in at least eight marked patrol units, said the Kino Border Initiative group in a news release.
Aldo Saracco, first inspector of the state commission of human rights in Sonora, said Saturday he could not confirm if the gunmen were members of the state and municipal police because it was too early in the investigation.
A call and emails to Nogales and Sonora state police went unanswered Saturday. Rights groups have filed complaints with Mexican state and federal authorities, as well as with state and federal human rights commissions.
“We want to know exactly what happened so police don’t feel they can do whatever they want,” said Marla Conrad, an advocate with the Kino Border Initiative, a binational organization that works on immigration issues in both sides of the border.
The group is helping the seven men who came forward to file an official complaint and is assisting the family that runs the shelter.
Saracco confirmed the agency received a formal complaint and is working with authorities, who have 15 days to respond.
On Monday, Francisco Arce, deputy director for public safety in Nogales, Sonora Francisco Arce said municipal police officers weren’t involved.