News24

73 kidnapped migrants rescued in Mexico

2012-02-10 16:04

Mexico City - The Mexican army has rescued 73 kidnapped Central American migrants, including 18 minors, from buildings in the country's northeast near the crime-ridden US border, the defence ministry said.

It said forces were tipped off to the presence of the kidnapped migrants in the Tamaulipas state two days ago and launched a "co-ordinated, simultaneous and surprising" rescue operation on Thursday in which four people were arrested.

It declined to provide further information on the kidnappers or the nationality of the migrants.

In 2010 authorities discovered the bodies of 72 migrants from Central and South America in Tamaulipas, who appeared to have been killed after refusing to work for the feared Zetas drug cartel.

The Mexican government estimates that about 140 000 migrants, mainly from Central America, cross into the country en route to the United States every year, though non-governmental groups put the figure as high as 400 000.

The undocumented migrants undertake a perilous journey in which they risk arrest by local authorities or abuse, extortion or murder by the gangs that shepherd them north.

Mexico has been in the grip of a massive crime wave that has killed about 50 000 people since 2006, when the government launched a military crackdown on the country's powerful drug cartels.