Mexican police have rescued scores of migrants who had been packed into a freight truck. Smugglers have been turning to increasingly dangerous ways of human trafficking since a recent clampdown by authorities.
Police in northern Mexico on Monday rescued 150 migrants, including 25 children, from the freight compartment of a truck where they had been held under packed conditions. The National Immigration Institute said that the migrants had been in the truck for 14 hours without food or water.
Most of the migrants were from Central America, mainly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. They were found dehydrated, and some had almost lost consciousness.
Four alleged human traffickers were arrested in the case, according to authorities.
High cost of human trafficking
The group was en route from the central Mexican city of Puebla to Monterrey, near the US border, when the truck was stopped in the north-central state of Zacatecas. There it emerged that human traffickers had allegedly charged the migrants between $1,750 (1,550 euros) and $3,000 (2,650 euros) each to help them cross Mexico.
Central American migrants have had to find new routes to the US border since Mexico began raiding a freight train they used to ride. Authorities estimate that each day roughly 1,000 people try to cross the border into the United States, fleeing from a lack of economic opportunities as well as the growing drug war which has been plaguing the country for the past decade.
With 930 kilometers (580 miles) of the US-Mexican border fortified with a barrier fence, migrants are becoming increasingly willing to allow smugglers to put their lives at risk while being smuggled into the US. In the last 20 years, there have been at least 5,000 migrant deaths along the perilous border.
Immigration remains a hotly debated political issue in the US, which receives more than 100,000 asylum applications every year.
ss/cmk (AP, dpa)