Migrants kidnapped in north Mexico

Suspected human traffickers abduct 17 migrants near US border, police say.

    Mexican authorities are atruggling to contain a rise of smuggling and drug-related violence in the country's north [AFP]

    At least 17 migrants have been kidnapped by suspected human traffickers near the US border in northern Mexico, police said.

    Two migrants who were later freed reported the abduction to Mexican authorities on Wednesday, saying that "another 17 kidnapped people were inside a safe house", Gustavo Huerta, the chief of police in the city of Tijuana, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

    Leandro Martinez, 38, told police that he was abducted 10 days ago by a gang that smuggles illegal migrants across the border into the United States.

    He said he and another kidnapped migrant were dropped off by their captors on Wednesday near a mountain east of Tijuana, a city across the border from the US city of San Diego, California.

    Martinez said he was tied hand and foot and beaten during his captivity to get him to give out the telephone numbers of his relatives, who were then told to pay a $4,500 ransom for his release.

    Police said they are trying to locate the safe house where the other migrants are being held.

    'Mass execution'

    The kidnappings come one week after the bodies of another 72 Central and South American abducted migrants were found on a ranch in northern Tamaulipas state.

    Police said the 58 men and 14 women were victims of a mass execution by the Zetas drug gang because they refused to work with the gang.

    Both drug and human trafficking gangs often kidnap people for ransom in Mexico, where violence shows no sign of abating as gangs battle for control of smuggling routes.

    Mexican government officials have said drug gangs are increasingly extorting and kidnapping migrants to raise money because the government clampdown on organised crime has eaten into their other sources of revenues.

    Turf wars between Mexico's seven major drug cartels and government forces have killed at least 28,000 people since Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to crack down on the illegal trade in December 2006.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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