11/7/11- Five minutes across the border from Laredo, Texas, a house in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico was raided on Tuesday, October 1, and found to hold kidnapped migrants from Central America held by cartel members forcing them to commit crimes for the cartel or pay with their lives. The house in Nuevo Laredo is the most recent finding by the Mexican federal police of a of a migrant kidnapping shop in close proximity to the U.S. border. Two weeks ago federal police freed 61 migrants held captive in a house in Coahulia.
The Nuevo Laredo house held fifteen migrants from Honduras, kidnapped by drug cartels while on their way to the United States. While patrolling the Privada Esmeralda neighborhood, the Mexican military detained a man they suspected was watching over the kidnapped migrants. Migrants from Central America are routinely kidnapped by drug cartels for extortion, and used as forced labor or temporary hit men. Migrants are easy targets because of their vulnerable status and cartels routinely find them around public transit areas, attempting to travel north to enter the United States. Estimates for Central American migrants braving the travel through Mexico to the United States range as high as 300,000 a year.
The day before, on October 31, Mexican federal police in the Tamaulipas city of Reynosa rescued eight kidnapped individuals, seven from Central America and one Mexican citizen. During a routine surveillance patrol, officers overheard screaming from inside a house for help. Upon entering the house, they found the eight captives bound and blindfolded with evidence of physical abuse. According to the Mexican Secretary of Public Safety (Secretaría de la Seguridad Pública), the United States Marshal Service for the Southern District of Texas played a role in the operation that led to the victims’ liberation. This is not the first time migrants have been kidnapped in Tamaulipas. In 2010, the Zeta cartel was blamed for the killing of 72 Central American migrants in a ranch in that state when the migrants refused to take part in cartel activities.