Mexican authorities blocked dozens of migrants from hitching a ride to the U.S. on freight trains in Mexico City on Friday in a major new enforcement effort.
Thousands of people have used the freight trains, known as "The Beast," to hitch a dangerous ride to the Mexico-U.S. border before they cross over illegally.
Earlier this week, the Mexican railway company Ferromex temporarily suspended 60 trains running in the northern part of the country as migrants are getting hurt while climbing aboard the freight cars. Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM) has since deployed agents to dissuade people from climbing aboard, according to Reuters.
At a railway alongside a trash dump in Huehuetoca, a town north of Mexico City, some 40 INM agents in more than a dozen vans drove alongside the tracks to cut off access to migrants and sent up a drone to locate others who had scrambled into the surrounding hills.
"They forced us away from the rail," a Venezuelan migrant named Jason told Reuters. "We have no other options anymore."
Migrants carrying backpacks and jugs of water made their way through tall grass under the hot sun to retreat on foot to the nearest town.
INM on Friday said it would partner with Ferromex to identify strategic points to dissuade migrants from attempting to board the trains, Reuters reported.
Ferromex said Wednesday there have been about a "half-dozen regrettable cases of injuries or deaths" caused by migrants hopping on freight cars in recent days. It also said some migrants were jumping onto moving freight cars "despite the grave danger that represents."
The crackdown comes as desperate migrants are increasingly seeking access to the U.S., overwhelming both Mexican and U.S. border officials.
Migrants have long used the trains, known collectively as "The Beast," to hitch rides to the U.S. border, and a video of a Ferromex train out of Zacatecas, Mexico, packed with migrants — heading toward the U.S. southern border — went viral on Sunday.
When the company announced the decision to halt train operations, it said there were about 1,500 migrants gathered at a rail yard in the city of Torreon, in the northern border state of Coahuila.
Despite the U.S.’s stern message to migrants of "Do not come," the migrants continue to make the trek in droves.
Border patrols along the southern border have been facing overwhelming numbers of illegal crossings.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources told Fox News that over last weekend, there were more than 35,000 migrant encounters along the southern border. On average, that equates to just under 9,000 migrant encounters per day.
Last month, there were well over 20,000 migrants in Border Patrol custody, according to a CBP source, in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas.
Caravans heading toward the southern border included families with infants and children, along with unaccompanied minors.
Of the families that were stopped along the Rio Grande Valley, many were released with future court dates.
Fox News' Greg Wehner, Bill Melugin, Lawrence Richard and Reuters contributed to this report.