17 migrants kidnapped in N. Mexico
A group of 17 migrants has been kidnapped in Tijuana, the largest city in the northwest Mexican state Baja California, authorities said Wednesday.
Local press reported that the migrants were locked up in a safe house by human traffickers who were demanding 4,500 dollars ransom per person, Xinhua reported.
The reports said the information was provided by Leandro Martinez, one of two other migrants who escaped the ordeal near a gas station on a road leading to the U.S. city of San Diego.
Martinez, 38, was quoted as saying that he arrived in Tijuana on Aug. 21 from Michoacan, a state on Mexico' s Pacific coast, planning to cross into the United States.
He then ran into some men who claimed they could smuggle him across the border. The same men kidnapped him, took him to a private house and bound his hands and feet. There were other immigrants being held at the house.
However, Ernesto Alvarez, a spokesman for Tijuana police reached by Xinhua via telephone, said he couldn't confirm the news reports.
But he said a 38-year-old migrant was freed at the foot of a mountain in the eastern part of the city.
The incident happened at a time when the Mexican government announced a "comprehensive strategy" against rampant kidnapping of migrants heading for the United States via Mexico.
It also came a week after Mexican troops discovered bodies of 72 murdered migrants from Central and South America in northeast Mexican state of Tamaulipas that borders the U.S. state Texas.
Each year, it is estimated that 300,000 Central Americans cross into Mexico ultimately trying to get to the United States.