Eleven Mexican former police officers were found guilty on Thursday in the murders of 17 migrants who were shot and burned near the United States border, prosecutors said.
The prosecutor’s office said in a statement it had “managed to obtain a conviction” against 11 police officers charged with homicide, while another one was found guilty of abuse of office.
After a trial that lasted more than three months, judge Patricio Lugo Jaramillo ruled there was enough evidence to convict the former police officers.
The killings took place on Jan. 21, 2021 in the community of Santa Anita in Tamaulipas state, close to the border with the United States, where 16 migrants from Guatemala and one from Honduras were headed.
The victims “lost their lives due to gunshot wounds and were subsequently incinerated,” the prosecutor’s statement read.
Initially, 12 police officers were charged with murder, but one of them had the charge softened to abuse of authority in exchange for cooperating with the investigation.
The charred bodies were found in a truck in the municipality of Camargo, a major smuggling transit point for drugs and migrants. Organized crime groups covet control of stretches of the border because they make money off everything that crosses the border.
Camargo is near the edge of territory historically controlled by the Gulf cartel and in recent years a remnant of the Zetas known at the Northeast cartel has tried to take over.
A total of 19 bodies were discovered, including the remains of two Mexicans who, authorities said, were human traffickers who were going to take the migrants to the border.
At least 853 migrants died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully over a 12-month span in 2021-2022, making fiscal year 2022 the deadliest year for migrants recorded by the U.S. government, according to internal Border Patrol data obtained by CBS News.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.