MEXICO CITY -- Mexican authorities in the eastern border state of Tamaulipas said Wednesday that they had rescued 81 migrants who were being held against their will in a two-story building in the city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas.
Officials said the migrants were from Central America, except for one Mexican. All had hoped to cross the border illegally.
Such mass kidnappings are common in Mexico, typically carried out by armed groups who demand money from the migrants’ families in exchange for their release. The Mexican army freed 165 migrants in a similar case last month in the Tamaulipas town of Diaz Ordaz.
Tamaulipas is under the control of the notorious Zetas gang, whose leader, Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, was captured by authorities Monday.
The Zetas were formed years ago by leaders of the Gulf cartel as their muscle, recruited from a group of deserters from the Mexican army. The Zetas eventually split from the cartel and spread their operations through southern Mexico and Central America. The gang has exhibited brutality such as beheadings, massacres of migrants, torture and dismembering of live victims.