Mexican cartels kidnap migrants headed to U.S.

U.S. authorities say suspected members of Mexican cartels are kidnapping migrants who are trying to head to the United States to extort additional money from them to cross into the U.S. illegally.

Border Patrol agents in the Laredo, Texas are say they apprehended several this week who claimed to have been threatened and held against their will prior to entering the United States.

In one incident, a male Honduran national said that while traveling through Mexico last week, he and several other individuals had been forced off a bus by suspected cartel members and taken to an unknown location.

The Honduran claimed he and approximately 200 other individuals were held at the location against their will by armed men who were demanding money.  He said he was held for about a week before eventually escaping and crossing the Rio Grande by himself.

Later that same day, agents apprehended an additional 12 illegal aliens near the same approximate area.  One person in that group, an Ecuadoran national, corroborated the story of aliens being held against their will, and said the suspected cartel members had begun moving the other aliens to a different location when they discovered some of them had escaped.

"Human smugglers and traffickers view these people as commodities, a money-making opportunity, and nothing more," said Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez.  "They’ll stop at nothing to maximize their profit, casually putting the lives of these individuals at risk, with no regard for their well-being."