165 Rescued: Kidnapped Migrants Freed in Mexico Border Town [PHOTO]
Mexican troops have rescued 165 kidnapping victims from captivity in a house less than a mile from the United States border, authorities said yesterday.
The 165 Mexican migrants were trying to get into the U.S., but were tricked by smugglers who claimed they were going to take the migrants over the border.
"These human traffickers, these delinquents," said Eduardo Sanchez, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, "instead of taking them to the border, like they say they will, hand them over to criminal groups."
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The 165 kidnap victims, freed from a house in Tamaulipas, a volatile state in northern Mexico, were primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; there was one Indian national in the group of migrants. The 165 migrants were captured in groups two to three weeks ago. There were seven kidnapped children found in the house, and two women were pregnant.
"Everything indicates that these migrants were contacted by human traffickers ... and these criminals handed them over to criminal gangs instead of taking them to the border," said Sanchez.
On Tuesday, after receiving an anonymous tip about the kidnap victims, Mexican troops stormed the house in Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas, near the border town of McAllen, Texas. A man with a rifle, Juan Cortez Arrez, 20, was guarding the house and was arrested.
Inside the house, the 165 kidnap victims were found.
"They were found kidnapped by an armed individual and held against their will in precarious, dirty, overcrowded conditions," Sanchez said.
The migrants told authorities that they were abducted at gunpoint by their captors, who called their relatives and tried to extort ransom money.
The crime syndicate and drug cartel Los Zetas controls Tamaulipas. Kidnapping migrants is a common activity in the state, where drug smuggling is a major problem. In 2010, Los Zetas in Tamaulipas killed 72 kidnapped migrants when they refused to smuggle drugs for them.
Sanchez did not implicate Los Zetas in the kidnapping.
According to Amnesty International, Mexican migrants face "a variety of serious abuses from organized criminal gangs, including kidnappings, threats and assaults." In 2010, Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights said that at least 11,333 migrants were kidnapped in just one six-month period.
In the past six years, more than 26,000 people in Mexico have gone missing, according to Mexico's Interior Ministry.
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