Mexican authorities detained close to 400 migrants who were traveling through the country to reach the United States. The Central American migrants were traveling through the south of the country when Mexican authorities launched the operation.
Reports say that the operation was launched on a large group of about 3,000 migrants. The group included women and small children. The operation is now believed to be the largest ever on a migrant caravan.
Over the last few months, there have been several groups of migrants in Mexico. Some have stayed back but others have made it clear that they want to reach the United States. The majority of the people in the groups come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Mexican immigration authorities went after the people at the start and end of the group. The people detained were put in police vehicles. Some of the migrants escaped when the operation was launched. They hid in difficult to access areas while others decided to go inside churches and shelters.
Immigration authorities took the migrants to a station close to the city of Tapachula. Officials have not given any details on the process or if they will be deported. Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said those detained had refused to sign up for a visa.
Migrant caravans are nothing new in Central America. In the last six months, several migrant caravans have started a long journey to the US. Some caravans have hundreds while others have thousands of people.
The majority of the migrants say they are escaping poverty, crime and violence in their countries. Mexico has seen many migrant caravans over the last few months but many small towns are now hostile towards them. Residents see the migrants as a problem because they are taking government resources.
Arturo Hernandez, a farmer from Honduras, told AP that they waited until they were resting. He said that there are people still lost in the woods. Denis Aguilar, a factory union leader in Honduras, also spoke to AP and said that this was a planned ambush by authorities.
Mexico has been under pressure by the US to step these large groups from crossing the country and reaching the border. Just a few weeks back, US President Donald Trump ordered the suspension of aid payments to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
In November, the US decided to close one of its busiest border crossings with Mexico over a caravan that was getting close. The decision to close the San Ysidro border crossing was temporary since authorities were installing wire topped barriers.
The border crossing was closed shortly after a group reached towns in the north of Mexico. At the time, officials in the city of Tijuana warned that they were not prepared to take in the thousands of people that were planning to cross.
One of the biggest caravans started last year when a former politician posted the news on social media. The migrant caravan had around 1,000 people but grew to 5,000 when the news was shared.
The arrival of the caravan drew protests in some areas, including Tijuana. Some protested over the fear that the US would close the border, affecting their businesses. Others also took their time to show support for those who had arrived.