Priest: 80 migrants kidnapped in Mexico

June 27, 2011 - 3:00 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Masked gunmen stormed a northbound train and kidnapped at least 80 Central American migrants presumably bound for the United States, a priest who runs a migrant shelter said Monday.

The Rev. Alejandro Solalinde said migrants who escaped the attack told him armed men in ski masks and civilian clothes intercepted the train as it passed through southeastern Mexico on Friday. The gunmen then allegedly forced migrants to climb down from atop the cars and stuffed some into at least three waiting SUVs.

Solalinde, who runs a migrant shelter in nearby Oaxaca, said he suspects that the Zetas drug cartel was involved because it operates in the area.

The train was scheduled to stop at the community of Medias Aguas in Veracruz state but continued onto an isolated area, Solalinde said the witnesses told him, implying that the train's operators were cooperating with the gunmen.

Federal prosecutors said Monday that they have not received a formal complaint about the incident.

The priest said some who escaped told authorities there were 250 migrants on the train, most from Honduras and Guatemala.

Thousands of Central American migrants enter Mexican territory without permission each year, many bound for the United States.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission reported at least 11,333 migrants were abducted between April and September 2010. One of the worst attacks in recent history occurred in August 2010, when 72 migrants were killed in the northern state of Tamaulipas. The Zetas are suspected in that killing.

Police also recently made arrests in the suspected December kidnapping of 50 migrants in Oaxaca.