MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico detained 94 illegal immigrants, including 19 from the Indian subcontinent, packed into a truck bound for the U.S. border, authorities said on Tuesday.
Among the people found near the southern city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, capital of Chiapas state, were 10 Nepalese and nine Bangladeshis trying to reach the United States, officials said.
Apprehensions of Asians immigrating illegally to the United States have increased sharply in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Authorities said the migrants were traveling in inhumane conditions. The driver of the vehicle, who was from central Mexico, was arrested on human trafficking charges.
The truck set out from Huehuetenango, Guatemala, and police detected the migrants with an x-ray at a checkpoint outside Tuxtla Gutierrez after midnight on Monday. The migrants were on their way to the United States, state prosecutors said.
Several of the migrants were treated for hand and leg injuries, and some struggled to breathe due to the “overcrowded conditions” on the truck, Mexico’s National Migration Institute said.
“It’s a long journey and they intended to travel to the United States like that, literally hidden,” said Hector Flores, a spokesman for the Chiapas state prosecutor’s office. “Obviously, those are not optimal conditions for human beings.”
The non-Asian migrants were from the Central American nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The entire group, which included seven minors, is likely to face deportation proceedings.
Between 2007 and 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available, the number of Indian nationals apprehended by U.S. authorities jumped from less than 1,000 annually to nearly 4,000. The numbers of Bangladeshi, Nepalese and Sri Lankan migrants detained have also increased.
The Central Americans were charged between $4,000 and $5,000 for the journey, while the Asian migrants had to pay between $6,000 and $8,000, according to the National Migration Institute.
An Indian national was among a group of 165 migrants rescued by Mexican troops in June, after being kidnapped near the U.S. border and held in the state of Tamaulipas.
Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Dave Graham and Stacey Joyce