Mexico and Guatemala free victims of human trafficking

An undocumented Guatemalan immigrant before being deported from the US, on June 24, 2011. Migrants from Central America are frequently abused by their traffickers

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Mexico and Guatemala say they have rescued at least 104 people from captivity and arrested 14 of their alleged human traffickers.

Police in Guatemala said they raided two houses near the Mexican border and found at least 60 people who wanted to travel to the United States illegally.

They arrested eight alleged smugglers.

In Mexico, the authorities said they found 44 Guatemalan migrants in a house near the Guatemalan border and arrested six alleged human traffickers.

Migrants from Central America often pay smugglers to enter the US illegally, but are frequently abused by their traffickers.

They can hold migrants in captivity to extort more money from the victims' relatives.

'Most wanted'

Police in Guatemala said they carried out the raids in Huehuetenango province in the west of the country.

They said those rescued were mostly Guatemalans, but did not give the nationalities of those arrested.

In Mexico, the National Immigration Institute said the 44 Guatemalans, including seven women and two boys, were found in a house in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

It added that the alleged human traffickers, who are thought to be all from Guatemala, were wanted by the authorities in the United States.

"This criminal group was led by Sebastian Rocael Milton Cardona, 42, who was in charge of co-ordinating the movement of migrants from Guatemala to the US, and was one of the most wanted by the authorities of his country.

"They (the alleged smugglers) were arrested by the authorities of the government of Chiapas for the crime of human trafficking," it said in a news release.

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