NUEVO TEAPA, Mexico (Reuters) - Nearly 130 migrants from Central America were discovered in the back of a shipping truck in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz on Thursday after officials heard pounding and screams for help, Mexico’s National Guard said.
The driver of the truck was pulled over for not using a seatbelt on a highway in the southern part of Veracruz, the National Guard said in a statement.
After hearing cries for help, officials opened the back of the vehicle to find 128 men, women and children crowded in “inhuman conditions” that were inadequate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the statement.
It added that the driver had been arrested.
The incident occurred days after the latest major U.S.-bound caravan of nearly 8,000 migrants was broken up by officials in Guatemala after it crossed into the country from Honduras.
A Reuters witness who spoke with the migrants traveling on the truck in Veracruz said they were not part of the caravan.
Thousands of people from Central America have been trying to travel north after back-to-back hurricanes in November displaced more than half a million people in the region, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.
Many were hoping to reach the U.S. border after Wednesday’s inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who acted swiftly on his first day in office to dismantle several of former President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
Guatemalan security officials, after some clashes with a large group of migrants camped on a highway, returned thousands of people back to Honduras and El Salvador on buses this week.
Some migrants from the caravan said they fled security forces and fanned out into the mountains of Guatemala.
Reporting by Tamara Corro in Nuevo Teapa, Mexico; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Paul Simao
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.