Mexican authorities say they’ve rescued 165 migrants who were apparently kidnapped as they tried to cross into the United States.
The victims were held for weeks in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Thursday.
One hundred fifty of the migrants are from Central America. Another 14 are Mexican nationals, and one is from India, the ministry said.
They were crammed into a house and held in squalid conditions for two to three weeks, officials said. Photos released by the interior ministry showed blankets, shoes and buckets scattered on the fenced-in home’s patio.
“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,” Interior Ministry spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said.
At least 11,333 migrants were kidnapped during a six-month period in 2010, Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights said.
That year, authorities also found the bodies of 72 slain immigrantsfrom Central and South America on an abandoned ranch near the Mexico-U.S. border.