INVESTIGATION: Deaths in Border Services custody

Series published in 24 Hours Vancouver | Jan. 27-Feb. 27, 2014 | Circulation: 280,000+

Re-published across QMI chain in Toronto SunOttawa SunCalgary SunWinnipeg SunEdmonton SunLondon Free PressCanoe.caBrockville RecorderSault Star & St. Catherine’s Standard

Migrant advocates hold a candlelight vigil outside the Canada Border Services Agency's Vancouver offices. Photo by David P. Ball

Migrant advocates hold a candlelight vigil outside the Canada Border Services Agency’s Vancouver offices. Photo by David P. Ball

News of the hanging death of Lucia Vega Jimenez, a Mexican undocumented hotel worker, in Canada Border Services Agency custody has sparked a public inquest, garnered ongoing national coverage — and led to growing calls for oversight of the CBSA.

After breaking Lucía’s story in 24 Hours Vancouver, I continue to investigate the circumstances that led to this tragedy. Got a tip? Email me at david(at)davidpball.net

Read more of my reporting on CBSA in-custody death:

The B.C. Coroners service has confirmed the death of a Mexican national who was being held by Canada Border Services Agency on Dec. 28 Lucia Vega Jimenez, 42, died in Vancouver’s Mount St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The cause of her death hasn’t been revealed because it is an “open case under active investigation,” Coroner spokeswoman Barb McLintock told 24 hours.

“She had been taken to hospital in the early morning hours of Dec. 20, 2013, from the Canada Border Services Agency holding cells at Vancouver International Airport.”

Although it’s unknown why she was being held by CBSA, Jimenez was transferred to agency’s cells the day previous from a provincial correctional facility.

24 hours learned of her death last week from Mexican journalist Karla Lottini who herself had fled threats at home to come to B.C. The 40-year-old Surrey resident was nearly deported two years ago until protests from migrant activists were staged and the government reversed its decision.

“I want to know her story, what reason she came here, why she got sent to the detention centre, and how she lost her life,” Lottini said. “I can imagine the despair in that situation.

“Last year they deported another Mexican woman and she was killed very soon after they deported her. A lot of people are coming here to save their lives.”

Lottini called the circumstances around Jimenez’s death suspicious and called for more information and better monitoring of immigrant detentions.

A CBSA spokeswoman said Jimenez was a “short term detainee” and that it’s cooperating with Richmond RCMP and the Coroner’s investigation but couldn’t comment further.

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