TUCSON, Arizona – Mexican authorities rescued a group of 39 Central American illegal immigrants who were on their way to Texas. 16 of the individuals were minors.
The rescue took place earlier this week in the port city of Altamira, in the southern part of the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas as a result of an anonymous tip called in to authorities.
The tip came from a group of immigrants who had managed to escape their captors and dialed a state run tip-line leading authorities to the human stash house, a news release from the Tamaulipas government shows.
At the house, authorities rescued the group which included 19 immigrants from Honduras, 13 from El Salvador and seven from Guatemala, who were held in the house against their will. The immigrants were turned over to Mexican immigration authorities for investigation and likely deportation.
Authorities did not provide information about their captors, however, in recent months Tampico has been an area under the control of the Gulf Cartel. The crime syndicate has expanded its operations into not only drug trafficking but also human smuggling extortion, fuel theft and others criminal enterprises.
For the past two years, human smugglers have shifted their routes from the western U.S. border, to the eastern part of Mexico, through Tamaulipas, into South Texas. The practice has led to an unprecedented increase in people from countries other than Mexico who cannot be rapidly deported. As such, they are held in detention centers or released with a notice to appear at a court hearing months later, an issue that has drawn widespread media attention and created much controversy.
Follow Ildefonso Ortiz on Twitter @ildefonsoortiz.
*This piece has been updated since its original publishing.