Over 100 kidnapped Central American migrants were rescued in North Mexico, near the Texas border, in a case which highlights criminal groups’ abuse of migrants, who make an easy target for kidnapping and extortion.
According to officials from the Mexican Navy (SEMAR), the 104 undocumented Central American migrants were kidnapped and held captive for four days before they were rescued on March 7 in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, reported Milenio.
The authorities found the migrants trapped in a building after responding to reports that an armed group had been unloading people from vehicles. By the time the security forces arrived, the armed gang had already escaped. The kidnappers, whose identify remains unknown, had reportedly demanded that the migrants pay a ransom in exchange for their freedom.
Two of the captives were identified as Salvadorans, while the rest were from Hondurans. There were 91 men and 13 women in the group.
Authorities transferred the migrants to the Attorney General’s Office after giving them medical attention.
InSight Crime Analysis
The kidnapping of migrants travelling through Mexico as they attempt to reach the United States — many of them from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — has become an increasingly common practice for criminal groups such as the Zetas, according to a 2012 report on migrant kidnapping. This practice is a profitable enterprise for these groups, who either demand payment from the migrants or forcibly recruit them into their ranks.
Based on National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) figures, it is estimated that approximately 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year as they pass through Mexico.
The Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas are all believed to be present in Tamaulipas and are fighting for control of the region. The Zetas in particular have become well-known for their tactics of kidnapping migrants near the borders. As reported in InSight Crime’s special on migration, the group began by assaulting migrants on the Guatemalan border, but later expanded operations to north Mexico states like Tamaulipas, making the last part of the journey into the United States particularly dangerous for migrants.
The Gulf Cartel, factions of the Juarez and Tijuana Cartels, the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) and the Sinaloa Cartel have also been reported to be involved in migrant kidnapping and human smuggling.
Corruption in Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) has also facilitated the expansion of human smuggling and migrant kidnapping in the country. Nearly 900 officials were suspended, fined or dismissed from the body for irregular conduct during the presidency of Felipe Calderon.