Hundreds of Mexican migrants who were trying to reach the US were discovered on Thursday night hidden in two semi-trailers parked at a gas station, Mexican authorities have said.
The trucks were part of a huge immigrant transport operation that stretched over two days as the migrants set off from the southern state of Veracruz, a major gate to the US, on Wednesday.
The vehicles were found under two trailers at a gas station in Campeche, on the Gulf coast, said a US official who has been informed of the situation. The US official asked not to be identified.
US immigration authorities have questioned nine people and are investigating the discovery of the migrants, the official said.
It is unknown how many people were inside the vehicles. One of the trailers was rented by Hinojosa Velasco, a Mexican businessman from San Miguel de Allende, a university town in the state of Oaxaca, local police told the Associated Press.
The company’s number was disconnected, and there was no response to several calls to the legal office of the company in the city of San Miguel de Allende.
The migrants appeared to be Mexican, and a number of migrants interviewed by the Associated Press from shelters in Veracruz said they were from Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla states.
The immigrant trafficking operation started when seven trucks left the state on Wednesday, US and Mexican officials said. Some 100 migrants, including a couple with two small children, set off on foot with nearly 100 more, according to the US official. The travellers set off from the port of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico early Thursday, but were found only an hour later in Campeche.
Michael Fenster, director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for the US attorney general, said in a statement: “We are aware of an incident in the Gulf of Mexico and we are closely monitoring it. We stand ready to provide assistance to the Mexican authorities and support their investigation as well as determine whether or not any US individuals were involved.”