The Mexican army rescued 61 men who were allegedly being held as forced labor for the Zetas drug gang in Piedras Negras, a city bordering Texas in the northern state of Coahuila.

The victims allege that they were kidnapped and forced to work for a criminal group, suspected to be the Zetas gang. Three individuals guarding the safe house were taken into custody during the operation, which comes less than a week after Mexico’s interior minister announced the deployment of federal police and military forces to Coahuila to combat organized crime and insecurity.

The security sweep of Piedras Negras neighborhoods also resulted in the discovery of an abandoned truck filled with 470 packages of marijuana, with a total weight of over six tons, as well several luxury vehicles containing gun cartridges and magazines for automatic weapons.

Mexican authorities consider Coahuila to be an important base of Zetas operations because of its prime location across the border from Texas as well as its proximity to Monterrey, capital of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, where the Zetas are battling the Gulf Cartel for control of drug smuggling routes. Last week, the Mexican army captured Carlos Oliva Castillo, presumed leader of the Zetas in Saltillo, Coahuila’s capital.

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