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Mexico arrests owner of school in construction corruption case

Mexico arrests owner of school in construction corruption case

MEXICO CITY — Police have arrested the owner of an elementary school that collapsed in Mexico City, killing 26 during a devastating magnitude 7.1 earthquake in September 2017.

Mexico City Attorney General Ernestina Godoy said that Monica Garcia Villegas was apprehended at a restaurant on the south side of the capital on May 11 thanks to an email tip sent to authorities. Garcia Villegas is expected to be charged with involuntary homicide.

Godoy attributed the arrest to a reward of 5 million pesos ($350,000) that authorities announced in late-April for information leading to Garcia Villegas’ whereabouts. The tip line received information from 16 tipsters suggesting locations in at least six different states.

“We went to all of them,” Godoy said at a press conference.

The collapse of the Enrique Rebsamen school killed 19 children and seven adults and came to symbolize the corruption and impunity that plague Mexican construction.

Officials have said the owner built an apartment for herself on top of the school wing that fell, which may have played a role in the tragedy.

The search for survivors at Rebsamen captured the attention of people worldwide amid reports shortly after the quake that a girl was purportedly trapped alive in the school’s rubble. Authorities later announced that the girl never existed.

Godoy said there are still arrest warrants out for two construction overseers who authorized the additions at the school, despite insufficient steel or other supports to sustain the extra weight.

The earthquake killed 228 people in the capital and 141 others in nearby states.

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