Photo: Mexican Army Rescues Migrants
Army troops rescued 21 Central American migrants who were being held captive at a location in Nuevo Laredo, a border city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, the Defense Secretariat said.
Soldiers on patrol Friday in the Solidaridad neighborhood of Nuevo Laredo spotted three individuals, one of whom was armed, outside a building, the secretariat said.
The three subjects fled when they saw the soldiers approaching and were later arrested.
Soldiers found 17 men and four women from Guatemala and Honduras in the house who had apparently been kidnapped, the secretariat said.
The suspects, the migrants, the weapon, a vehicle and the building were turned over to prosecutors.
The army is carrying out “Operation Northeast” in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and San Luis Potosi states in an effort to weaken the drug cartels that operate in the region.
The Gulf drug cartel has been waging a war in northeastern Mexico against Los Zetas, a band of army special forces deserters turned hired guns and drug traffickers.
Thousands of migrants, both Mexicans and foreigners, try to enter the United States each year via land routes from Mexico.
An estimated 300,000 Central Americans undertake the hazardous journey across Mexico each year on their way to the United States.
The trek is a dangerous one, with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials preying on the migrants.
Gangs kidnap, exploit and murder migrants, who are often targeted in extortion schemes, Mexican officials say.
Central American migrants follow a long route that first takes them into Chiapas state, which is on the border with Guatemala, walking part of the way or riding aboard freight trains, buses and cargo trucks.
The flow of migrants has increased markedly in the northern and northeastern parts of Mexico since U.S. officials increased security along the border in the northwestern part of the country.