Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) officers rescued 206 Central American migrants trapped in a sealed semi-tractor trailer. The Guatemalan and Honduran migrants, including women and children, told authorities cartel smugglers drugged them to inhibit the urge to use a bathroom during the trip. The migrants were encountered in the Mexican state of Veracruz on Saturday evening.
According to INM, authorities from multiple agencies discovered the tractor-trailer on the side of a roadway near Cardel, Veracruz. An inspection of the trailer revealed the hidden human cargo within. Twenty of the 206 migrants found inside were unaccompanied migrant children wearing identity bracelets placed on them by the migrant smugglers.
Authorities indicate the trailer appeared to have been modified by adding a support structure to afford a second floor. This enabled the trailer to accommodate more migrants. An additional modification was made to defeat the use of X-ray technology used by authorities to detect the migrants hidden inside. The migrants were found to be suffering from dehydration and claimed they were forced to ingest an unknown medication to reduce bodily functions while being transported.
According to INM, the group consisted of 144 members of family units, 42 single adults, and 20 unaccompanied migrant children.
The migrant encounter on Saturday was one of three migrant smuggling cases encountered by INM authorities in tractor-trailers in just two days. In all, more than 500 migrants were discovered inside three tractor-trailers in the Mexican state of Veracruz.
In the first case, Mexican law enforcement authorities discovered 107 migrants being transported in a trailer headed to Puebla from Veracruz. Police stopped the driver of the tractor-trailer for speeding. An inspection of the vehicle led to the discovery of the migrants. In that incident, the migrants were from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Cuba. The driver of the vehicle and five other suspects connected to the case now face criminal charges related to migrant smuggling.
In the second of three tractor-trailer cases in two days, 196 migrants were discovered in an abandoned tractor-trailer parked along a roadway near Fortin de las Flores, Veracruz. In that incident, five Indian nationals were discovered among the group of mostly Central American migrants. Nineteen unaccompanied migrant children were also discovered inside the tractor-trailer. No arrests were made in relation to this case.
Lacking statutory arrest authority in Mexico, the INM categorizes all detentions related to foreign nationals lacking proper immigration permits as rescues. According to INM, in 2022, more than 746,000 irregular migrants, likely headed to the United States, were rescued by the agency.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.
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