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Mexican prosecutors say gunmen who briefly kidnapped 23 migrants in northern Mexico planned to demand ransom from loved ones living in the United States

MEXICO CITY – Gunmen who briefly abducted 23 migrants from a Mexican hotel had planned to demand ransom from relatives living in the United States, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

It was not clear why the armed gang that kidnapped a total of 39 people from a hotel early on Tuesday released them all later, although the state prosecutor’s office in San Luis Potosi, in the north of the country , said it was because the kidnappers knew they were wanted by the authorities. .

The office said migrants among those abducted included Cubans, Haitians and Venezuelans.

Prosecutors said police were investigating the 16 Mexicans also torn from the Matehuala town hall where the migrants were staying, to see if any were involved in migrant smuggling. The office said “it is possible that they were informants or that they were the ones who took them (the migrants) north.”

Gunmen traveling in three vehicles drove to the hotel before dawn on Tuesday with the intention of kidnapping the migrants and forcing them to hand over the phone numbers of their relatives living in the United States, the officials said. prosecutors.

The Mexicans were found on a road near a convenience store on Tuesday evening and the migrants were found in a nearby hamlet. All are now safe.

More expensive migrant smuggling operations often accommodate their clients in small hotels when they move them north. Organized crime gangs traditionally levy a tax for every migrant who crosses their territory. If this tax is not paid or if a rival smuggling group sees an opportunity, such kidnappings can occur.

Rival gangs sometimes simply hijack groups of migrants from other traffickers.

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ABC News