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103 children among hundreds found in abandoned truck in Mexico

Conditions inside the container illustrated the increasing sophistication of people smugglers with fans and vents cut into the roof.

Mexican authorities have discovered 343 migrants and refugees, including 103 unaccompanied minors, in an abandoned truck container on the side of a highway.

The National Immigration Institute (INM) said Monday the trailer was found in the steamy Gulf Coast state of Veracruz. It was on a route often used by smugglers to bring people from southeastern Mexico to the United States border.

The people were in good health and it was unclear why the driver fled, authorities said.

Most of the children came from Guatemala. Migrants who reach the US often pay smugglers to take their children with them afterwards.

The institute said the adults were mainly from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador.

The children will be placed under the supervision of Veracruz’s family services system, while the others will be processed to determine their legal status in Mexico, INM said.

People have been found dead in abandoned cargo containers in the past.

Record levels

The conditions inside the container illustrated the increasing sophistication of smugglers. The trailer had fans and vents in the roof and the people wore color-coded bracelets, apparently to identify them as clients of smugglers.

Trucks are one of the most dangerous methods used by smugglers to transport undocumented migrants through Mexico to the US.

Last June, more than 50 people died after being left in a red-hot semi-trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas.

In December 2021, 56 migrants from Central America to the US were killed and dozens injured when the truck they were traveling in overturned in southern Mexico.

Movement across the US-Mexico border reached record levels in 2022 with US Border Patrol documenting 2,378,944 “encounters” in the region.