Nearly 140 undocumented immigrants have been apprehended by police in Veracruz while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexican border, the National Institute of Migration (INM) said Friday.
When officers pulled a large trailer over to the side of the Coatzacoalcos-Acayucan highway, they discovered 136 Central Americans, including 49 minors, from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua crammed inside the vehicle.
According to officers, the sound of voices and crying spurred an investigation of the truck. Inside, they found the stowaways packed tightly in the vehicle, with many displaying symptoms of suffocation due to poor ventilation.
Temperatures had soared upwards of 40 degrees Celsius and many of the undocumented passengers said they had been without food or water for 24 hours.
Thirty-six of the minors were given shelter; an additional 13 unaccompanied adolescents will be receiving legal advice on the refugee application process.
According to police, in total there were 83 Hondurans, 48 Guatemalans, four Salvadorans and one Nicaraguan.
The INM has contacted the consulates and will be arranging the necessary return process. Veracruz is one of Mexico's most violent states, with a history of crimes against undocumented immigrants, but Veracruz authorities are guaranteeing safe passage.