Soldiers rescued 165 migrants, including 151 foreigners, from the clutches of a criminal gang in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, the Mexican government said Thursday.
Most of the foreign captives were from Central America, but the group also included an Indian national, federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez told reporters.
A tip from the public led to the search of a home in the town of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, where troops detained a rifle-toting man, Sanchez said.
Seven children and two pregnant women were among the captives, he said.
The migrants spent more than two weeks crammed into the gang’s safe house as the criminals telephoned the captives’ families to demand ransoms, the spokesman said.
“The people rescued said they had been detained” by the criminals “in various actions and places along the border strip when they were trying to find a way to cross” into the United States, Sanchez said.
The foreign migrants are likely to be repatriated to their respective homelands.
Every year, tens of thousands of Central Americans undertake the journey across Mexico to reach the United States. The trek is a dangerous one, with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials preying on the migrants.
Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, was the scene in August 2010 of a massacre of 72 undocumented immigrants by members of the Los Zetas drug cartel.
Zetas gunmen pulled the migrants from northbound buses and sought to recruit them as cartel employees.
The migrants were executed when they refused to work for the Zetas.