Mexican authorities have rescued 73 people from a house in the north of the country, further evidence of the vulnerability of migrants to kidnapping and extortion at the hands of organized crime.
On September 30, Mexican authorities discovered the captives in the border city of Reynosa, in the northeastern Tamaulipas state, reported Vanguardia. Thirty-seven of the victims were Mexican, while the rest were from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Among the group of 56 males and 17 females were six minors.
Some of the victims had been apparently kidnapped from buses or at bus stations and held for up to four months. The captors had called victims' family members to demand money in exchange for their freedom, reported Proceso.
Authorities discovered the migrants after two subjects of a police chase attempted to hide in the house, reported Informador. Three people have been arrested in connection with the case.
InSight Crime Analysis
Criminal organizations in Mexico have systematically target migrants for extortion or forced labor and Tamaulipas State -- as a major thoroughfare for migrants attempting to cross the US border into Texas -- has witnessed some brutal crimes against migrants, including the massacre of 72 people in 2010. In 2011 a mass grave was found in the state containing more than 200 bodies, believed to be migrants. Both incidents were later linked to the Zetas.
See Also: Violence Against Migrants Series
Migrants taking the dangerous routes through central Mexico toward the US, known as the “migrant train,” are vulnerable to organized crime and known to be extorted for fees as high as $20,000 to ensure safe passage. Female migrants often fall victim to Mexico’s growing sex trafficking industry.
According to Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), as many as 22,000 migrants -- many from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala -- are kidnapped in Mexico each year.
The number of Central Americans trying to cross the Mexico-US border has dropped in recent years, due to several factors including economic improvement in their home region, increased violence in northern Mexico and a US crackdown on border security. However this latest incident demonstrates that there are still large numbers of people prepared to risk the journey in the hope of a better life in the United States.