Mexican authorities on Friday rescued 24 Central American migrants, including nine children, who had been held hostage for nearly three weeks in the crime-ridden state of Guanajuato, officials said.
The migrants were held for 20 days in the town of Celaya, about 210 kilometers (130 miles) from Mexico City, said Secretary of State Security Juan Jose Gonzalez.
They told officials that their relatives had been making payments to their captors during that time, Gonzalez said. The victims were receiving medical attention after their ordeal, he added.
Separately, the security ministry announced the arrest of 59 migrants, including 55 Hondurans, around the northeastern town of Saltillo, near the U.S. border.
The plight of the youngest refugees and migrants, mostly from Central America, who travel to the U.S.-Mexico border often in search of asylum in the United States. More photos: https://t.co/IBuyGiq3Gm pic.twitter.com/dVAVQwsR5x
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) July 6, 2019
Thousands of Central Americans attempt to cross Mexico in so-called “caravans” every year in the hope of reaching the United States to seek refuge from violence and poverty at home.
After U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Mexico with tariffs, Mexican leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador agreed last month to crack down on undocumented migration, deploying tens of thousands of National Guardsmen to tighten its borders.
Mexico deported 33 percent more foreigners month-on-month in June, officials said this week.
The migrants are frequent targets for violent criminal gangs operating in Mexico, where more than 40,000 people have been officially reported missing.