MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Authorities in northwest Mexico rescued 113 kidnapped migrants of different nationalities from a building along the border with the United States (US), the state prosecutor’s office said.
Thousands of migrants fleeing violence and poverty risk abduction and exploitation at the hands of criminal gangs while crossing Mexico on the way to the US border.
The latest discovery in the municipality of San Luis Rio Colorado, which borders the US state of Arizona, arose from follow-up investigations by authorities who found on Friday 10 Colombian citizens presumed to have been kidnapped.
“This time people from El Salvador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, US, India, Peru, Nepal, Bangladesh, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil and Afghanistan were brought to safety,” the prosecutor’s office of Sonora state said on its official Facebook page. Five individuals believed to be “responsible for the crimes against the migrants” were arrested as part of the operation, two of whom are Honduran nationals.
Police forces that carried out the rescue were greeted “with applause, blessings and prayers” by the group of foreigners held captive in the house, the prosecutor’s office said.
Last month, 63 migrants from Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Dominican Republic and Mexico were kidnapped in the same region while trying to reach the US border. All of them were rescued alive.
Mexican authorities have urged asylum seekers not to travel to the border in the hope that the US will allow them to enter next week, when it lifts COVID-19 rules used to block most migrants for the past three years.
The measure, activated in 2020 under former president Donald Trump’s administration as part of the COVID-19 emergency, allows the immediate expulsion of people without papers even if they request asylum.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Friday migrants were being lured to the frontier by rumours that they will be able to cross over without being sent back, criticising people smugglers for spreading “false” information.