Sunday, June 16, 2024

52 migrants and 2 bus drivers reportedly kidnapped near Matehuala

The National Confederation of Mexican Transporters (Conatram) reported 52 migrants and 2 drivers appeared to have been kidnapped near the city of Matehuala, San Luis Potosí. 

According to the San Luis Potosí Attorney General’s Office (FGE-SLP), the migrants boarded a bus bound for Monterrey, Nuevo León in Tapachula, Chiapas on Monday. The vehicle disappeared on Highway 57 between the San Luis Potosí municipalities of El Huizache and Matehuala at approximately 2 a.m on Tuesday morning. Thirty minutes later, the bus was found empty in Los Medina, Nuevo León. 

Tapachula coaches
Tapachula is a starting point for migrants looking to take bus journeys northward through Mexico to the U.S. border. (Damián Sánchez/Cuartoscuro)

“The Attorney General of San Luis Potosí, as well as other state authorities, are collaborating with Nuevo León regarding the discovery of a passenger bus found there,” the FGE-SLP said in a statement. 

The vice president of the Conatram’s Zone II region, José Luis López Hernández, reported that two hours after the migrants’ disappearance, an unidentified individual called him and demanded a ransom of US $1,500 per person.

On Tuesday night, Nuevo León head of public security Gerardo Palacios reported via Twitter that authorities had located some of the migrants, who confirmed that they had been kidnapped near Matehuala.  

During his regular morning press conference on Wednesday, President López Obrador said that the National Guard (GN) has already been deployed to aid in the migrants’ rescue. 

Helicopter footage of the vehicles used in the kidnapping
105 migrants bound for the United States were found after being kidnapped near Matehuala in April this year.(@SeguridadGto/Twitter)

“We are dealing with the migrants in Matehuala. [The disappearance] was reported yesterday, and some have already been found. The site has already been identified,” the president said. 

“In short, they are already working on it. The National Guard has been deployed, and we hope that they will be rescued,” he added. 

President López Obrador reminded migrants that there are kidnapping gangs in the country and called on migrants not to be fooled by the traffickers. 

“Unfortunately, there are gangs dedicated to kidnapping, and for this reason we appeal to our migrant brothers not to be fooled or manipulated by the traffickers, by the coyotes, the smugglers who tell them they can pay five, six, eight thousand dollars [so] that they can help them get to the United States.”  

105 migrants were abducted near Matehuala last month.

He stressed that there are now improved legal pathways for migrants to obtain U.S. citizenship, stating that before, “There were no options [to get to the U.S.] besides crossing Mexico to get to the United States.” 

stretch of highway in San Luis Potosi, Mexico
The stretch of highway where the kidnapping apparently happened. (Google Maps)

The president noted that migrants can go to U.S. embassies in different Latin American countries to get information about applying for asylum through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection mobile app called CBP One. 

However, users complain that securing an appointment through the application is difficult because of technological setbacks and overuse.

Many migrants hoping to reach the United States are currently traveling toward the border after the COVID-19-era migration policy Title 42 was lifted on Thursday. 

In its place, the U.S. has initiated a new policy limiting asylum eligibility and allowing for the swift deportation of migrants who do not follow the established pathways. 

With reports from Milenio, Sin Embargo and El Economista

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