World

In A Week, Mexican Officials Find 370 Abandoned Child Migrants

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 21:  A woman and her sons stand in front of an abandoned home on March 21, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. The border city of Juarez has suffered from the duel effects of the recession in America and the surge in drug violence. An estimated 100,000 jobs having been lost since the recession and some 10,000 businesses have been closed in the past 18 months. City officials also say that thousands of homes have been abandoned as residents leave for El Paso or safer cities in Mexico. Juarez has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon in 2009 disbanded the corrupt local police force and sent 10,000 soldiers to Juarez, but the violence has raged on. With a population of 1.3 million in Juarez, 2,600 died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans who worked for the U.S. Consulate last weekend as they returned from a children's party.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 21: A woman and her sons stand in front of an abandoned home on March 21, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. The border city of Juarez has suffered from the duel effects of the recession in America and the surge in drug violence. An estimated 100,000 jobs having been lost since the recession and some 10,000 businesses have been closed in the past 18 months. City officials also say that thousands of homes have been abandoned as residents leave for El Paso or safer cities in Mexico. Juarez has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon in 2009 disbanded the corrupt local police force and sent 10,000 soldiers to Juarez, but the violence has raged on. With a population of 1.3 million in Juarez, 2,600 died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans who worked for the U.S. Consulate last weekend as they returned from a children's party. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  (2010 Getty Images)

Mexican officials said Saturday that in one week they found 370 migrant children who had apparently been abandoned by traffickers paid to take them to the United States.

The children were rescued in 14 Mexican states between March 17 and 24, and the youngest was 9 years old, the National Migration Institute said in a statement, adding that 163 of the children under 18 were found traveling alone.

Most migrants heading through Mexico to the United States come from Central America. They face the threat of accidents, robbery, rape or being forcibly recruited by criminal gangs along the way.

The institute said the children told officials the human traffickers abandoned them after being paid between $3,000 and $5,000. Sometimes migrants make the journey to the United States, then once established pay traffickers to bring their children north.

It said most of the children showed signs of extreme fatigue, dehydration and foot injuries, along with disorientation at being abandoned at unknown, often dangerous, locations.

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Father Heyman Vazquez, director of a refuge for migrants in Huixtla, Chiapas, said he is seeing more and more children making the dangerous trek across Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States.

"Every day more minors make the trip, often entire families with babies, but at other times children as young as 6 accompanied by other children only a bit older than they are," Vazquez told The Associated Press.

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