Defense Chief Confirms Rescue of 49 Kidnapped Migrants
By MARK LORENZANA
Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval on the morning of Thursday, May 18, reported that 49 migrants were rescued from the group that was kidnapped on Monday, May 15, while traveling on a bus between the Mexican states of San Luis Potosí and Nuevo León.
Sandoval said that there were 23 men, 15 women, six boys and five girls among those rescued in the Cruz de Elorza community, near the municipality of Doctor Arroyo, in Nuevo León. Seven of the migrants hail from Venezuela, 19 from Honduras, two from Brazil, one from Cuba, 14 from Haiti and six from El Salvador.
Some of the migrants were found traversing a highway, while others were seeking shelter in several houses in the area, according to Sandoval.
The defense chief said they were still looking for the two drivers of the bus, which was found abandoned Tuesday, May 16, in the municipality of Galeana, Nuevo León.
The bus carrying the migrants left Tapachula, Chiapas — which shares a border with Guatemala — 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.
The migrants were reportedly held captive in the municipality of Doctor Arroyo in Nuevo León, according to statements from several members of the group who managed to escape two days after they were abducted. 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.
Sandoval admitted, though, that authorities have made no arrests in connection with the kidnappings.
“We have not arrested anyone. The migrants will obviously give us some data that can help us identify the people who did (this),” Sandoval said, replying to a question from the press.
He added, though, that the rescued migrants said they were approached by criminals at a gas station.
“Several of the migrants gave us information that the bus had arrived at a gas station to refuel, and there they were approached and forcibly taken by members of organized crime,” Sandoval said. “That was the only information that we have obtained initially, but the information they provided us will help us a lot. They are still providing us with more information.”
Sandoval said they will deploy additional elements of the Mexican Army in Matehuala, San Luis Potosí, where there have been regular kidnappings of migrants and acts of violence.
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.