Migrant Caravan The Escorts

In this Oct. 22, 2018 file photo, migrant activist Irineo Mujica, center, of the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras or People Without Borders, holds a megaphone as a Central American migrant speak to reporters during a press conference in Tapachula, Mexico. 

Mexican prosecutors are accusing a cross-border activist, arrested Wednesday on the Sonora-Arizona border, of asking for money to move Central Americans north across Mexico.

Officers took Irineo Mujica into custody Wednesday in Sonoyta, Sonora, the town across the border from Lukeville, Ariz. where Mujica established a migrant shelter. He is a leader of the migrant-support group Pueblo Sin Fronteras and helped organized caravans  of Central Americans to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2018.

In a press release, Mexican federal prosecutors accused Mujica and Cristobal Sanchez of Mexico City -- both of them identified only by their first names  and last initials -- of asking for money in exchange for helping Hondurans cross into Mexico and move up to the U.S. border. 

Mujica, who has lived in Phoenix as well as Tijuana, has been a key but absent figure in the trial of No More Deaths volunteer Scott Warren this week at U.S. District Court in Tucson. Witnesses identified him as the man who drove two men, a Salvadoran and a Honduran, to an aid station in Ajo, used by various humanitarian groups, called The Barn. 

Warren faces one count of conspiring to harbor the two men and two counts of harboring them at an aid station in Ajo in January 2018. He said in testimony Wednesday and Thursday that the two Central Americans showed up unexpectedly, and he simply provided them with water, food, medical aid and orientation. 

The indictment doesn’t say with whom Warren is accused of conspiring, but a subsequent search of Warren’s phone showed calls he had made with Mujica, among others, and in court documents, prosecutors warned Mujica could be considered a co-conspirator.

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However, Mujica has not been accused in the Warren case or any other U.S. criminal case, and he was let go twice after being stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint on Arizona 85 in the weeks after Warrens arrest.

Mujica was arrested once in southern Mexico while taking part in a large migrant caravan in October 2018, but was released the next day. That arrest took place in Chiapas, the same state on the Guatemala border where, according to the press release, a judge issued arrest warrants for Sanchez and Mujica that were carried out Wednesday. 

Contact reporter Stephanie Casanova at scasanova@tucson.com. On Twitter: @CasanovaReports

Reporter

Stephanie is a Tucson native and graduated from the University of Arizona in 2014. She worked for newspapers in Rapid City, South Dakota; Manhattan, Kansas; and Lake Havasu City before moving back to Tucson.

Columnist

Tim Steller is the Star’s metro columnist. A 20-plus year veteran of reporting and editing, he digs into issues and stories that matter in the Tucson area, reports the results and tells you his opinion on it all.