Massive Kidnappings of Migrants Plague Mexico

Photo: Unsplash/Jose P. Ortiz


A new problem is plaguing the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO): the massive kidnappings of migrants, the most recent of which occurred on Monday, May 15, when at least 50 migrants disappeared between the Mexican states of Nuevo León and San Luis Potosí.

A bus holding the 50 migrants left Tapachula, Chiapas, on Sunday, May 14, and disappeared the following day. The migrants reportedly had permission to transit through Mexico and decided to take a bus to head to the northern border.

Gerardo Palacios, secretary of security of Nuevo León, confirmed on Tuesday afternoon the discovery of the abandoned bus in the municipality of Galeana. According to Palacios, after a joint investigation between authorities of Nuevo León and San Luis Potosí, nine of the abducted foreigners — who were described as between the ages of 18 and 35, and hailing from Venezuela and Honduras — were rescued in a highway between Matehuala, San Luis Potosí, and Saltillo, Coahuila.

The migrants were reportedly held captive in the municipality of Doctor Arroyo in Nuevo León, according to statements from those who managed to escape. The owner of the bus company received a call on Monday, asking for a thousand dollars for each of the passengers on the bus, the vice president of the National Confederation of Mexican Carriers in San Luis Potosí said.

In his daily morning press conference on Wednesday, May 17, López Obrador said he would send members of the National Guard (GN) to help with the search of the other missing migrants.

“The kidnapping of migrants in Matehuala is being taken care of. Some of them have already been found. The site has already been identified. In short, we are already working on that. There is a deployment of the National Guard, and we hope to rescue them,” AMLO said.

“Originally, we are talking of 50 (kidnapped migrants). We are on it, and we cannot say more for obvious reasons, but work is being done.”

López Obrador likewise admitted in the same press conference that the kidnapping of migrants has become a problem in the country.

“Unfortunately, there are gangs that kidnap. That is also why we make this appeal to our migrant brothers not to be deceived, manipulated by the traffickers, by the coyotes, by the polleros, who tell them that if they pay several thousands of dollars, they’re going to take them to the United States,” Lopez Obrador said.

On Tuesday, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden warned that “Mexican drug cartels have become leaders of the migratory flow toward the United States,” and that this development “represents a fundamental change in the operations of people-smuggling networks throughout the American continent.”

“We are seeing how drug cartels increasingly direct the movement of people not only in Mexico, but also throughout the hemisphere, including through the Darién Gap in Panama,” said Blas Núñez-Neto, of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “It is a fundamental change in the way smuggling networks operate. We have been working with our colleagues in the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice to attack these networks in a comprehensive manner.”

In April of this year, 121 migrants were rescued after being abducted by drug cartel members, and just this month foreigners traveling in Monterrey recounted their experience as they survived a kidnapping attempt there. On May 4, 10 Colombian nationals were abducted in Sonora, but were released the following day, according to Andrés Hernández, the Colombian envoy in Mexico. Just a week before the abduction of the Colombian nationals, Ecuador had contacted officials in Sonora to complain that 30 Ecuadorans had been abducted in the state.

According to the Mexican federal government in a statement released early this month, over 2,000 migrants were kidnapped by smuggling gangs and drug cartels last year.

The spate of kidnappings is far from the only migration-related problem plaguing the AMLO administration. On March 27, 40 people died when a fire broke out at a detention center of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

One comment

Leave a Reply