Two Arrested in Killings of Transgender Women in Puerto Rico

The authorities stated they’d labeled the fatalities as a hate criminal activity following stays of two females happened to be within a badly burned automobile the other day.

Per week after the systems of two transgender females were within a severely burned car in Puerto Rico, the authorities mentioned Thursday that they have detained two boys relating to the killings and had switched them up to the F.B.I.

The boys, Juan Carlos Pagan Bonilla, 21, and Sean Diaz de Leon, 19, comprise used into custody on Wednesday but have not already been charged, in accordance with Capt. Teddy Morales, the main of unlawful research when it comes down to police in Humacao, on Puerto Rico’s east shore, the spot where the women’s keeps were found on April 22.

The guy mentioned the F.B.I. got bought out happening and ended up being investigating Mr. Pagan Bonilla and Mr. Diaz de Leon for possible civil rights violations.

“We is classifying it as a detest criminal activity because they comprise socializing using the subjects, and once they discovered they certainly were transgender girls, they chose to destroy them,” master Morales said on Thursday escort in Lewisville.

The authorities said they certainly were awaiting autopsy leads to figure out how the ladies were killed. Activists need determined the women as Layla Pelaez, 21, and Serena Angelique Velazquez, 32, two company which lived-in nyc. Their unique stays had been discovered after individuals known as 911 to document a burned car under a bridge on a desolate street in Humacao, right before 5 a.m. on April 22, chief Morales stated.

Mr. Pagan Bonilla and Mr. Diaz de Leon was socializing with Ms. Velazquez and Ms. Pelaez about evening before these people were slain and are recorded on one associated with the women’s social networking profile, chief Morales mentioned.

He said the police got also fastened Mr. Pagan Bonilla and Mr. Diaz de Leon on killings through surveillance camera video footage and “scientific evidence,” that he dropped to detail. Mr. Pagan Bonilla confessed to playing the killings, and Mr. Diaz de Leon transformed themselves in, the guy stated.

Limary Cruz-Rubio, a spokeswoman the F.B.I.’s San Juan area office, declined to discuss the arrests but mentioned the bureau routinely collaborates with regional, condition and national firms.

“The Bureau was and certainly will often be thinking about violent make which might fall within national legislation,” she stated. “However, our very own coverage is we really do not confirm or deny the existence of research, to safeguard the integrity of every possible investigative work.”

Mr. Pagan Bonilla and Mr. Diaz de Leon cannot straight away getting reached for discuss Thursday nights, therefore was not immediately obvious should they got attorneys.

When the guys are billed, it can represent a flipping point in the maneuvering of crimes against L.G.B.T.Q. people in Puerto Rico, with a disturbing reputation for assault against homosexual and transgender group, activists mentioned.

Ms. Velazquez and Ms. Pelaez had been the third and fourth transgender men murdered in Puerto Rico within the last few 2 months, activists said. These were in addition considered to be the 7th and eighth transgender or gender-nonconforming men and women to have already been killed in the United States this present year, in accordance with the individual liberties Campaign.

In the past 15 period, 10 L.G.B.T.Q. men and women have started murdered in Puerto Rico, in accordance with Pedro Julio Serrano, a gay rights activist. Just about three associated with deaths stays unsolved, the guy stated.

“These arrests is one step from inside the best direction, however these murders have to be prosecuted as hate crimes,” Mr. Serrano stated. “We craving the federal government to finish the investigations inside other seven murders of L.G.B.T.Q. individuals on island and serve fairness for all of them.”

Ms. Velazquez lived-in Queens and Ms. Pelaez inside the Bronx. Both got recently moved to Puerto Rico, and comprise looking to fly back to nyc afterwards this thirty days, relating to household members and activists.

Luz Melendez, 29, Ms. Pelaez’s cousin, stated Mr. Pagan Bonilla and Mr. Diaz de Leon were detained after a regional radio station uploaded pictures ones on myspace and individuals started initially to call the station to understand them.

“We were extremely appreciative of the efforts that officials plus the neighborhood added to obtain whom did this,” she stated on Thursday.

She mentioned the photographs came from two video clips that Ms. Pelaez had uploaded on the Snapchat and Facebook records, which confirmed the woman and Ms. Velazquez socializing with Mr. Pagan Bonilla and Mr. Diaz de Leon.

“I watched the video clips, and it appeared like these people were spending time collectively as buddies,” she said. “It seemed typical. There was sounds playing in the credentials. Everyone appeared great.”

She mentioned the police got shared with her family members merely the boys had been in national custody.

The killings came four weeks after Yampi Mendez Arocho, a 19-year-old transgender guy, was murdered in Moca, P.R., in accordance with the peoples liberties strategy.

In March, Alexa Negron Luciano, a well-known figure on Puerto Rico social media who was transgender and homeless, got recorded to dying after a McDonald’s client reported that Ms. Negron have spied on the in the women’s space.

Ms. Negron’s last minutes — framed in headlights of a motor vehicle amid a cackle of fun — comprise published on social media marketing, an undeniable fact that activists stated underscored the impunity homophobic assailants feel when committing these criminal activities.