Photo: Anti-kidnapping conference in Mexico
Mexican federal forces rescued 224 kidnap victims - mostly undocumented Central American migrants - and arrested nine suspects in two operations in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, officials said.
Authorities freed 205 migrants, including two Mexicans, in one of the operations, carried out Wednesday in the port city of Tampico, the national anti-kidnapping coordinator, Renato Sales, said at a press conference.
The group, which also comprised 156 Hondurans, 35 Salvadorans, seven Guatemalans and five Cubans, “said they had been deprived of their freedom,” he said, adding that three suspected kidnappers were arrested.
In the other operation on July 3, federal forces rescued nine Salvadorans, six Hondurans and four Cubans - eight of them minors - in the town of Altamira.
Six suspected kidnappers were detained in that operation, three of whom are minors, Sales said.
“More and more minors” are members of the kidnapping gangs or among the victims of this crime, the official said.
Tens of thousands of migrants, most of them from Central America, pass through Mexico each year in search of a better life in 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.
U.S. officials are currently dealing with a wave of arrivals of unaccompanied Central American minors at the U.S.-Mexican border.
This week, President Barack Obama asked Congress for an additional $3.7 billion in supplemental funds to deal with the “urgent humanitarian situation” created by the arrival of tens of thousands of undocumented Central American children.