147 aban­doned mi­grants are res­cued

Smug­glers left Cen­tral Amer­i­cans with­out food, wa­ter in Mex­ico.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Pa­trick J. McDon­nell pa­trick.mcdon­nell @la­times.com Ce­cilia Sanchez of The Times’ Mex­ico City bu­reau con­trib­uted to this re­port.

TIJUANA — Nearly 150 Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants packed into a trac­tor-trailer bound for the United States were res­cued in the Mex­i­can gulf state of Ver­acruz af­ter be­ing aban­doned by smug­glers, Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties said Sun­day.

The case comes a week af­ter a truck fer­ry­ing scores of Mex­i­can and Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants with­out suf­fi­cient wa­ter and ven­ti­la­tion was found in Texas. Ten mi­grants died in that case.

The 147 peo­ple res­cued in Ver­acruz — whose ranks in­cluded 48 mi­nors, in­clud­ing 14 un­ac­com­pa­nied by adults — had been left with­out food and wa­ter and were found Sat­ur­day in a ru­ral zone of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Ozu­lu­ama, the Mex­i­can Na­tional In­sti­tute of Mi­gra­tion said in a state­ment.

Traf­fick­ers had directed the mi­grants to exit from a truck into which they had been packed in over­crowded con­di­tions lack­ing ven­ti­la­tion, au­thor­i­ties said. They were told to hide in the un­der­brush and await the re­turn of the smug­glers, who never came back.

Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties pro­vided med­i­cal care to the mi­grants, some of whom were de­hy­drated, of­fi­cials said. None re­quired hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and all were taken to an im­mi­gra­tion fa­cil­ity in Ver­acruz while of­fi­cials at­tempted to clar­ify their sta­tus in Mex­ico.

They in­cluded cit­i­zens of Hon­duras, Gu­atemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, au­thor­i­ties said.

The mi­grants aban­doned in Ver­acruz were prob­a­bly fol­low­ing the same well-tran­sited route as those who per­ished in Texas.

Cen­tral Amer­i­cans des­tined for the United States reg­u­larly make their way via trucks, trains, buses and other ve­hi­cles to the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der area, seek­ing to cross il­lic­itly into the United States. Texas’ Rio Grande Val­ley, ad­ja­cent to Mex­ico’s Ta­mauli­pas state, is a fa­vored cross­ing zone. Many Mex­i­can mi­grants take the same route.

Or­ga­nized crim­i­nal gangs, in­clud­ing the ul­tra­vi­o­lent Ze­tas car­tel, con­trol the traf­fick­ing cor­ri­dors, charg­ing mi­grants thou­sands of dol­lars each for the trip north, of­fi­cials say. Smug­glers of­ten aban­don their hu­man car­goes en route.

Traf­fick­ers also seek to re­cruit some mi­grants for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity and some­times kill their charges for re­fus­ing to en­list or for be­ing un­able to pay smug­gling fees, ac­cord­ing to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials.

In 2010, Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties dis­cov­ered the bod­ies of 72 mi­grants, mostly Cen­tral Amer­i­cans, on a ranch in Ta­mauli­pas. All had been killed ex­e­cu­tion-style, Mex­i­can po­lice said. Au­thor­i­ties blamed the deaths on the Ze­tas.

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