MEXICO CITY – Army troops rescued 77 illegal immigrants who were being held captive at a house in Reynosa, a border city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, and arrested two people for violating federal laws, the press reported.
Soldiers on patrol Saturday in Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas, spotted two suspicious individuals in a vehicle that did not have a tag, the press reported, citing information provided by the Tamaulipas bureau of the federal Attorney General’s Office.
The soldiers followed the vehicle to a house, where they found the migrants, who were turned over to the National Migration Institute, or INM, for processing.
The two individuals suspected of being guards at the house were arrested and turned over to federal prosecutors.
An estimated 300,000 Central Americans undertake the hazardous journey across Mexico each year on their way to the United States.
The trek is a dangerous one, with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials preying on the migrants.
Gangs kidnap, exploit and murder migrants, who are often targeted in extortion schemes, Mexican officials say.
Central American migrants follow a long route that first takes them into Chiapas state, which is on the border with Guatemala, walking part of the way or riding aboard freight trains, buses and cargo trucks.
The flow of migrants has increased markedly in the northern and northeastern parts of Mexico since U.S. officials increased security along the border in the northwestern part of the country.
A total of 46,716 Central Americans were deported from Mexico between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2011, the INM said in a report released earlier this year.
The majority of the migrants – 41,215 – were men and nearly half, some 23,560, were from Guatemala, the INM said.