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Mexico to announce plan to protect migrants

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The announcement comes after 72 slain migrants were found in a border state
  • The interior ministry says the plan will help authorities fight the abduction of migrants
  • Analysts say migrants traveling through Mexico are often the target of attacks

(CNN) -- Mexico's government will present a new strategy for preventing the kidnapping of migrants Tuesday, the nation's interior ministry said.

The announcement comes a week after the bodies of 72 slain migrants from Central and South America were found in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas.

It's a fate that officials say befalls thousands of Central and South Americans every year as Mexico's organized crime networks expand their reach.

"The drug cartels have not confined themselves to selling narcotics," said an August report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan, nonprofit policy institute based in Washington. "They engage in kidnapping for ransom, extortion, human smuggling and other crimes to augment their incomes."

Cartel involvement has increased the risk for migrants crossing through Mexico to get to the United States, said Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights. An investigation by the commission showed that 9,758 migrants were abducted from September 2008 to February 2009, or about 1,600 per month.

Officials are investigating whether members of the Zetas drug cartel were responsible for the deaths of the 72 Central and South American migrants last week.

The massacre's sole survivor has been released from a hospital and returned to his native Ecuador, Mexican officials said Monday. He was turned over to high-level Ecuadorian officials at the Navy secretary's hangar in Mexico City, the Mexican interior secretary's office and the foreign ministry said in a joint release.

Officials reported Friday that the lead investigator in the case was missing and presumed abducted.

CNN's Arthur Brice contributed to this report