Mexico raided migrant train 153 times in last year

(The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2015 - 8:42am

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities said Tuesday they staged 153 raids over the last year on a train known as "La Bestia" that rolled toward the U.S. border crowded with Central American migrants.

Following a big surge in child migrants reaching the U.S. border last year, Mexico's government cracked down on routes commonly used by migrants to travel from Guatemala to the U.S. border.

The head of the National Immigration Institute, Ardelio Vargas, said the 153 train raids were part of 758 immigration inspections over the last year. Such raids also target buses, trucks and other means of smuggling migrants.

Mexican immigration agents, federal police and other federal forces began setting up highway checkpoints and raiding trains in mid-2014 to discourage clandestine migration from Central American countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Vargas said Mexican immigration agents assisted 23,078 child migrants of various nationalities between January 2014 and February 2015. It was not clear how many of those minors were repatriated to their home countries.

He said Mexican authorities had detained 408 people for committing crimes against migrants, which he said included murder, kidnapping, rape and extortion.

Mexico says the increased enforcement is meant to protect migrants' safety, because criminals preyed on those riding the train or walking along heavily travelled routes.

ARDELIO VARGAS BORDER CENTRAL AMERICAN HONDURAS AND EL SALVADOR IMMIGRATION LA BESTIA LAST MEXICAN MIGRANTS NATIONAL IMMIGRATION INSTITUTE VARGAS
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