MEXICO CITY – Mexican marines rescued 103 Central Americans and five Mexicans being held at a banana plantation apparently operated by people traffickers, and arrested eight suspects, federal prosecutors said.
Three newborns and a pregnant 12-year-old girl were among those rescued by the marines, the Attorney General’s Office said.
The rescue operation was staged at the La Herradura banana plantation in Tapachula, a city in Chiapas state, which is on the border with Guatemala, the AG’s office said.
The 83 men and 25 women are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the AG’s office said.
The Central Americans “were found living under conditions of exploitation and overcrowding,” the AG’s office said.
The eight suspects – six Mexicans and two Central Americans – will be charged with people trafficking, prosecutors said.
Illegal immigrants often fall prey to gangs of robbers, police, immigration officers and, in recent years, to Mexico’s drug cartels.
In August, 72 Latin American migrants were massacred at a ranch in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas.
The massacre victims came from Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Brazil, but the majority were Hondurans.
Two migrants – one from Ecuador and another from Honduras – survived the massacre.
Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent drug cartel, is suspected of murdering the migrants.
More than 1,000 Hondurans and Salvadorans have gone missing in Mexico, with “their whereabouts unknown,” non-governmental organizations say.
Earlier this month, a caravan organized by the Honduran Network of Migrants Committees and Relatives of the Missing traveled around Mexico to raise awareness about the more than 500 Hondurans who went missing here while trying to reach the United States.
This was the sixth annual caravan organized by the Honduran activists, who estimate that nothing has been heard from more than 6,000 migrants in the past five years.