MEXICO CITY – Mexican authorities rescued 39 Central American migrants and arrested 14 alleged people traffickers who were holding them captive, said the head of the National Immigration Institute, Ardelio Vargas.
The capture of the band, which offered to take people from the southern Mexican border to the United States, came after a six-month investigation during which authorities located several safe houses in Ecatepec, in central Mexico state, Vargas said in a press release.
The migrants paid between $3,000 and $5,000 to be transported to the United States and the traffickers did not let them go outside or leave the houses where they were being held if they did not pay lodging and food costs, the official said.
During the rescue operation, authorities determined that the migrants – who came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – “were ... in overcrowded conditions and without food” and some of them had been shut up for more than two weeks in the houses.
Among the foreigners was a woman with three little girls and a boy, ages 2 to 5, and also a five-year-old boy who was traveling along and had been turned over to the band to be taken to the United States.
Vargas said that the 14 alleged traffickers, including the band’s leader, identified as Javier Luis Garcia Castañeda, were turned over to the specialized investigation office for organized crime within the Attorney General’s Office.
The migrants were taken to an immigration center and their respective consulates were notified to help return them to their countries.