Skip to main content

165 kidnapped migrants freed in Mexico

By Mariano Castillo and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
June 6, 2013 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Mexican authorities say they've rescued 165 migrants who were apparently kidnapped as they tried to cross into the United States. The victims were held in this house in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, according to Mexico's Interior Ministry. Mexican authorities say they've rescued 165 migrants who were apparently kidnapped as they tried to cross into the United States. The victims were held in this house in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, according to Mexico's Interior Ministry.
HIDE CAPTION
Kidnapping victims freed in Mexico
Kidnapping victims freed in Mexico
Kidnapping victims freed in Mexico
Kidnapping victims freed in Mexico
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The migrants were held in squalid conditions, officials say
  • A majority of the victims are Central American migrants
  • Mexico's Interior Ministry says they were held for weeks
  • Rights groups have said drug cartels target migrants in Mexico

Read the latest on this case in Spanish at CNNMexico.com.

(CNN) -- Mexican authorities say they've rescued 165 migrants who were apparently kidnapped as they tried to cross into the United States.

The victims were held for weeks in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, Mexico's Interior Ministry said Thursday.

One hundred fifty of the migrants are from Central America. Another 14 are Mexican nationals, and one is from India, the ministry said.

They were crammed into a house and held in squalid conditions for two to three weeks, officials said. Photos released by the interior ministry showed blankets, shoes and buckets scattered on the fenced-in home's patio.

"The victims said that they had the intention of entering the United States of America, but they were held against their will while a suspected criminal group contacted their families by phone and demanded different sums of money that were sent to their kidnappers," Interior Ministry spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said.

Rather than taking them across the border, human traffickers apparently handed the migrants over to criminal groups, he said.

An anonymous tip describing people with weapons at a home in the city of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz led Mexican soldiers to the scene.

In front of the house, soldiers spotted a gunman who tried to flee with they arrived, Sanchez said.

They detained suspect Juan Cortez Arrez, 20, and handed him over to prosecutors.

Drug cartels that operate in the area are known to have kidnapped migrants in the past and requested ransoms for their release.

Sanchez did not identify any criminal group that could be involved and declined to respond to questions.

Amnesty International has said that immigrants in Mexico "face a variety of serious abuses from organized criminal gangs, including kidnappings, threats and assaults."

At least 11,333 migrants were kidnapped during a six-month period in 2010, Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights said.

That year, authorities also found the bodies of 72 slain immigrants from Central and South America on an abandoned ranch near the Mexico-U.S. border.

The Central American migrants freed Thursday included 77 Salvadorans, 50 Guatemalans and 23 Hondurans.

Two of them were pregnant, and 20 of them were minors.

More than 26,000 people have gone missing in Mexico over the past six years as violence surged and the country's government cracked down on drug cartels, according to Mexico's Interior Ministry. Authorities don't have data on how many of the disappearances were connected with organized crime.

In Mexico, Central American immigrants under fire

CNNMexico's Mauricio Torres and CNN's Rafael Romo contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex, agents caught up with a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back terror to Europe.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT)
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT