MEXICO CITY – Thirteen migrants were apparently kidnapped by a gang in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas and their lives may be in danger, Amnesty International said Thursday.
Army troops rescued about 40 migrants on March 19 in Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas, but 10 of the migrants were abducted a second time as they made their way to a shelter, AI said.
The 10 migrants “were heading to a Catholic shelter when they were once again kidnapped and their whereabouts is unknown,” the human rights group said.
Shelter workers reported the mass kidnapping, but no law enforcement personnel have spoken with them or started investigating “what happened or the location of the migrants,” AI said.
On March 18, a day before the kidnapping, three women deported by U.S. officials “were presumably kidnapped in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, near the border crossing,” AI said.
A fourth woman “managed to get away and ran to a nearby bus station, where she told police what happened, but the search launched (by officers) did not turn up any leads on the whereabouts of the three women,” the human rights group said.
AI said it was “deeply concerned about the safety of the kidnapped individuals.”
Federal and state officials should open a “complete and impartial” investigation to determine what happened to the migrants, AI said.
Authorities should offer protection to migrants rescued from gangs and to those deported from the United States, AI said.
Criminal organizations, working with corrupt Mexican officials, commit all kinds of crimes, including kidnapping, extortion and rape, against migrants, the human rights group said.
Mexican immigration agents stopped 82,269 migrants in 2013, of whom 75,704 were deported.
The vast majority of migrants are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
A total of 278 kidnappings were reported during the first two months of this year, up 11 percent from the same period in 2013.
Human rights activists, however, say only about 10 percent of the kidnappings in Mexico are reported to authorities.
National Anti-Kidnapping Coordination organization head Renato Sales said Tuesday that criminal organizations that previously focused on peddling drugs on the streets “are now staging kidnappings for small sums.”