Crime and Violence · Human Rights and Civil Society

73 kidnapping victims freed in Tamaulipas

The kidnapped victims shown here were part of the 73 individuals held at a house in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, who were freed on September 30 by state and federal police. Photo: Alexandre Meneghini, Associated Press.

10/14/13 (written by petrichk) — A positive sign of law enforcement cooperation was exemplified recently when state and federal police forces worked together to free 73 people kidnapped and held captive in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. The victims have not been named publicly, but about half of the individuals were migrant workers hailing from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and the other half were Mexican. The captives were taken from buses and bus stations and held for ransom for up to four months. Women and minors reported incidents of sexual assault during their captivity, in addition to other human rights offenses.

Proceso reported that three men were arrested in connection to the operation on September 30: Santiago Betancourt Mora (43), Daniel Martínez González (25), and Cristián Josué Galván (18). Police first became suspicious when two men tried to evade police by driving erratically and refusing to stop for a routine inspection. The men were arrested in the Las Fuentes neighborhood of Reynosa as they tried to enter a home on the Cerro San Miguel street. During the arrest, police officers heard cries for help coming from within the house and discovered the captive individuals, as well as small arms ammunition, grenades, and what appeared to be ten kilograms (22 pounds) of marijuana. For his part, Josué Galván was arrested on the suspicion that he was acting as a lookout for the criminal operation. According to Mileno, this is the second large-scale rescue of kidnapping victims in Tamaulipas this year. In March, the military freed 104 Central American migrants from the city of Nuevo Laredo. This is also not the only time Reynosa has been at the center of high profile kidnapping rings: 51 migrant hostages were rescued in April 2011, while 72 others were kidnapped and killed in August 2010.

The high number of migrant workers among the victims is reflective of the uniquely vulnerable nature of these often-undocumented individuals. As reported in the Justice in Mexico Project’s “September News Monitor,” the Peña Nieto government recently took steps to make migrant workers a focus area under the National Development Plan. Omar de la Torre, head of the Interior Ministry’s (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB) Migration Policy Unit (Unidad de Política Migratoria, UPM) presented a new publication entitled “Guide for Human Rights Protection for Public Servants” aimed at training public servants on safeguarding vulnerable populations, including migrant workers. De la Torre emphasized the critical need to implement such training and begin the shift in public perception about role, attitudes, and worth of migrant workers in Mexico. It will be seen whether the kidnapping victims of Tamaulipas will be some of the first beneficiaries of this new training and changing attitude.


“51 hostages rescued in Reynosa.” Justice in Mexico. April 26, 2011.

“September News Monitor.” Justice in Mexico, Vol. 8, No. 6. September 2013.

“Mexico rescues 73 suspected kidnap victims near U.S. border.” Reuters. September 30, 2013.

Redacción. “Rescatan en Tamaulipas a 73 mifrantes secuestrados.” Proceso. September 30, 2013.

Mosso, Rúben. “Policía Federal ‘rescata’ a 73 migrantes en Tamaulipas.” Milenio. October 1, 2013.

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