- Associated Press - Monday, March 11, 2019

MEXICO CITY (AP) - An armed gang has hauled 19 people off a passenger bus in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, security officials said Monday.

The gang forced the bus to stop on a highway between the border city of Reynosa and the town of San Fernando on Thursday. They abducted the victims, but allowed 22 other passengers to continue on to the border city of Reynosa, according to a state official who was not authorized to be quoted by name.

The official said the victims appear to have been Central American migrants. No relatives have come forward to file missing persons reports, suggesting the victims do not have family in Mexico.

The official said the case had been turned over to federal prosecutors because it involves organized crime.

The kidnapping recalls the horrors of 2011, when dozens of passengers were hauled off buses by drug gangs in Tamaulipas, killed and their bodies dumped in mass graves.

In 2010 and 2011, the Zetas drug cartel and its rivals kidnapped both Mexican male bus passengers and hundreds of immigrants.

In those days, the bus passengers were abducted and killed because the Zetas suspected rivals gangs of moving in reinforcements aboard buses. The migrants were kidnapped either to forcibly recruit them, or to demand ransom payments from the victims’ relatives in the United States.

Migrants are still often kidnapped for that reason.

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