MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that the governments of Central America and the United States have been contacted to investigate the case of 22 migrants allegedly kidnapped while traveling on a bus in the northern state of Tamaulipas.
“We are asking for information from Central American governments and the US government. We are doing the investigation,” the Mexican president said at his morning press conference.
Speaking from his podium at the National Palace, Lopez Obrador said that “there is no indication” that the vehicle was in the custody of the federal police, as reported by some media outlets.
“What we want is to continue investigating because we don’t want to have regrettable or horrendous cases like those in San Fernando repeated. We have to take care of migrants and not leave them unprotected,” he said.
In 2010, 72 Central American migrants were slaughtered in the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, a massacre that was attributed to the Los Zetas drug cartel.
When questioned about the identity of the disappeared people, the president confirmed Tuesday that they are in fact migrants, which could explain why there have been no disappearance reports filed by family members.
Although he did not rule out the possibility of an abduction, Lopez Obrador said that the sudden disappearance also could be a way in which the migrants entered US territory, adding that two similar cases have cropped up so far during his mandate, which began on Dec. 1.
This case, however, was first reported on Thursday when the bus belonging to the Transpais company was traveling north on Highway 53 and was stopped near the municipality of San Fernando, where in recent years deaths and disappearances of migrants have occurred.
On Sunday, the state government reported that at least 19 passengers were kidnapped three days earlier on a bus traveling from the Gulf Coast port of Tampico to Reynosa, a city on the US border.
The bus left Tampico with 42 passengers and en route to the US-Mexico border it was stopped by armed men traveling in at least four vehicles.
After boarding the bus, they forced the male passengers out and into their vehicles, after which they fled the scene to parts unknown.
The bus driver decided to continue to the final destination in Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Texas, where he reported the incident to police.