In very disturbing news from Mexico’s northeast border state of Tamaulipas, police on Oct. 1 said they rescued 73 abducted migrants outside Reynosa after following their apparent captors to a house and hearing frantic calls for help. Of the victims, 37 were Mexicans, 19 were from Honduras, 14 from Guatemala and another three from El Salvador. They included women and minors, some of whom reported having been sexually abused. Three suspects were detained, who are believed to have seized the migrants on buses they stopped in the desert. Some of the victims had been held for up to four months while their captors demanded payment from their families, police said. Weapons and drugs were also seized at the home, including nearly 700 rounds of bullets, a hand grenade, and almost 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds) of what was “believed to be” marijuana. (Reuters, Oct. 2)
Northeast Mexico and the Gulf Coast have seen a wave of such incidents, in which migrants have been kidnapped en masse, and either held for ransom or threatened with death if they refuse to serve as cross-border drug-running “mules.” Recent years have seen two massacres of abducted migrants in Tamaulipas, and efforts by relatives to identify those killed are still underway. Authorities rescued scores of abucted migrants in Las Fuentes, near the Texas border, earlier this year; similar operations were carried out in Reynosa in 2011: and in Villahermosa in 2010.