Police in Mexico's southern Chiapas state found 513 migrants on Tuesday inside two trailer trucks bound for the United States, and said they had been transported in dangerously crowded conditions.
Some of the immigrants were suffering from dehydration after traveling for hours clinging to cargo ropes strung inside the containers to keep them upright as the trucks bounced along from the Guatemalan border, and allow more migrants to be more crammed in on the floor.
The trucks had air holes punched in the tops of the containers, but migrants interviewed at the state prosecutors' office said they lacked air and water. The trucks were bound for the central city of Puebla, where the migrants said they had been told they would be loaded aboard a second set of vehicles for the trip to the U.S. border.
"We were suffering, it was very hot and we were clinging to the ropes," said Mario, a 23-year-old Honduran migrant who identified himself only by his first name, for security reasons. Mexico's National Human Rights Commission says thousands of undocumented migrants are kidnapped and held for ransom by drug gangs in Mexico each year.
None of the migrants would say whether any drug gang had been involved in the mass smuggling scheme broken up early Tuesday when Chiapas state police discovered the migrants while using X-ray equipment on the trucks at a checkpoint in the outskirts of city of Tuxtla Gutierrez.