Two men have been arrested in the deaths of two transgender women in what Puerto Rican officials are investigating as a hate crime.
On Wednesday, 21-year-old Juan Carlos Pagán Bonilla and Jose Díaz De Léon, 19, were arrested in connection with the murders of 32-year-old Serena Angelique Velázquez and Layla Peláez Sánchez, 21, according to NBC News, CBS and El Vocero.
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The women’s bodies were found inside a car in Humacao on April 22. They had been shot and the car was burned.
Bonilla and Léon allegedly killed the women for “revenge” motivated by “repudiating the sexual orientation of the victims,” Capt. Teddy Morales of the Criminal Investigation Corps of Humacao said, according to local news site Primera Hora.
The suspects were identified and arrested through cell phone tracking and fingerprint evidence found at the crime scene, El Vocero reports.
One of the suspects allegedly confessed to committing the “vile” crime, Morales said, which is being investigated as a hate crime.
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Velázquez and Sánchez’s deaths are part of an “epidemic of anti-LGBTQ violence,” in Puerto Rico, with 10 murders of trans people in the past 15 months, local LBGTQ activist group the El Comité Amplio para la búsqueda de la Equidad (CABE) said in a statement on April 29.
“They are hunting us and they are killing us. There is no other way to put it. In the past two months, five trans people have been killed in a resurgence of violence that we have not seen in our country for over a decade,” Ivana Fred, a CABE ally, said in the statement. “We demand immediate and urgent action by the government to stop this wave of violence against our trans and LGBTQ people.”
The Human Rights Campaign reports Valázquez and Sánchez are to be “the seventh and eighth violent deaths of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the United State,” according to news release.
“Enough is Enough,” Fred said in a statement included in the HRC news release. “Trans people deserve to live in peace, with equity, and freedom. Enough is enough of all of the hate.”