Juan Cortez Arrez
By H. Nelson Goodson
June 6, 2013
Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas, Mexico - On Thursday, Eduardo Sánchez, spokesman for the Mexican Ministry of the Interior (National Security) announced that the Mexican military had freed 165 immigrants, including 150 from Central America who were being held captive in the municipality of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz near the U.S. border across from McAllen, Texas. A tip on Tuesday led the military police to rescue the immigrants. They told authorities that they were picked up along the border by multiple smugglers who they hired to take them accross the U.S. border. But the smugglers turned them over to a criminal organization who kept them captive for ransom between two to three weeks. Members of a criminal organization had requested ransom from family members, the victims told authorities.
Sánchez confirmed that a total of 165 immigrants had been freed, which is the largest rescue yet for the Mexican military.
The immigrants were being held by one armed man, Juan Cortez Arrez, 20, at the time of their rescue. Arrez was arrested and is facing charges for kidnapping, human trafficking and having a weapon exclusively reserved for the military.
All the victims were taken to Mexico City for treatment and to provide information about their ordeal.
The immigrants were from various countries, 14 Mexican nationals, 77 from El Salvador including 8 minors, 50 from Guatemala including 10 minors, 23 from Honduras including 2 minors and one from India. There were 2 pregnant women, one from Honduras, the other from El Salvador and 20 minors in total among the captives, including 7 children.