165 Migrants Rescued Near U.S. Border After Anonymous Tip

165 migrants were rescued in Mexico, near the US border in La Joya, after being held captive for up to three weeks, the country’s Interior Ministry said on Thursday. The victims were trying to cross the border, but instead were handed over to criminal groups who demanded money from their families after the kidnapping, according to the Interior Ministry’s spokesman Eduardo Sanchez.

“The victims said that they had the intention of entering the United States of America, but they were held against their will while a suspected criminal group contacted their families by phone and demanded different sums of money that were sent to their kidnappers,” Sanchez said about the incident.

The Ministry went on to add that of the 165 migrants, 150 are from Central America, 14 are Mexican nationals, and there was also one person from India.

The victims were held captive in a fenced-in home for anywhere from two to three weeks, according to officials. The rescue mission came after an anonymous tip that there were weapons at a home in Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, a city in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

The tip led Mexican soldiers to the house which ended with 165 rescued migrants. The police arrested 20-year-old Juan Cortez Arrez at the scene and have since handed him over to prosecutors.

According to CNN, two of the victims were pregnant at the time of the kidnapping while 20 of them were minors. They were all crammed into the house and the Interior Ministry released photos showing blankets, buckets, and shoes all over the patio of the home.

They were all freed on Thursday after the efforts of the Mexican police, but the incident raises more questions going forward as organized criminal activity against immigrants has become more common in Mexico in the recent past.

The problem dates back to 2010, as Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights said that 11,333 migrants were kidnapped during a six-month span that year.

Do you believe the 165 rescued migrants who were kidnapped by a criminal gang will help raise better awareness for the rising issue in Mexico?

[Image via Peretz Partensky]