Mexican drug gangs are kidnapping numerous Central American immigrants traveling across Mexico and headed to the United States in most cases.
The gangs are expanding into pirated DVDs, illegal alcohol sales and business extortion, the Wall Street Journal reports.
But kidnapping is adding money to their coffers. The gangs ransom captives back to their families, recruit them as workers or sell them into prostitution.
More than 4,000 immigrants taken captive by gangs have been rescued by the Mexican army and federal police this year. Authorities estimate that tens of thousands of migrants are kidnapped each year.
Its a real business, said Antonio Mazzitelli of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Guiding a migrant across the border can bring $2,000; ransoms and illegal trade can mean more ill-gotten revenue for gangs,
In June, between 60 and 80 immigrants were abducted from a train in a remote region of Mexico. They have not been seen since.
The Mexican government is taking some steps to protect migrants traveling across their country. They are restricting bail on suspected traffickers and offering more protection for witnesses.
Unfortunately, some police agencies and border agents have been corrupted by the money to be made from exploitation of immigrants. Beyond that, law enforcement in Mexico is not well organized to protect Mexicans and Central Americans who fall victim to these crimes.
These are terrible, merciless crimes, however, committed against poor people who are desperately seeking work far from their homes and families. The exploitation of innocent travelers offers more reason for the Mexican government to gain the upper hand against the drug gangs who are destroying lives and destroying Mexico.