June 7, 2019 / Modified jun 10, 2019 8:58 a.m.

US citizen, activist with migrant caravans, arrested in Mexico

Supporters say he is a humanitarian worker, not a human trafficker, and want him released.

A key player in organizing and helping migrants travel in caravans from Central America to the U.S. has been arrested in Mexico, along with the founder of a Mexico City migrant aid group.

Irineo Mujica is a U.S. citizen living part time in Phoenix who works with Pueblo Sin Fronteras. Cristóbal Sánchez, is the founder of Migrant Culture Collective and a Mexican citizens.

Mujica gained national attention for helping to get large groups of migrants fleeing Central America organized into caravans. Mujica is now in Mexican custody, according to Alex Mensing with Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

Mensing says there is no coincidence that after the Trump administration announced it would impose tariffs unless Mexico stopped the caravans, one of the most prominent leaders of those caravans was arrested by Mexican police.

"This is clearly retribution. They are being charged with human trafficking, which is something right now that I can tell you are categorically false. We are putting together a legal team right now."

Mensing says Mujica is a human rights activist, not a human trafficker. He said he thinks Mujica's arrest is part of the Mexican government's frantic attempt to show the Trump administration that it is moving to halt the caravans from Central America heading through Mexico and to the U.S. border.

Trump tweeted that he plans to place a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods coming into the U.S. every month until the amount reaches 25 percent.

However, so far, no official moves have been taken to impose that tariff and no official has been able to answer how such tariffs would be implemented.

This is the second time Mujica has been arrested by Mexican police. Mensing says there was no evidence to convict him of human trafficking then, and he is confident there is no evidence to convict him now.

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