Mexican officials have yanked 652 migrants off trucks at the border with the United States — including hundreds of unaccompanied children.
Border officials stopped three trucks in the crime-ridden Mexican state of Tamaulipas when they heard voices coming from inside sealed containers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The migrants, mostly from Guatamala, were only discovered and freed when X-rays revealed their presence inside. Four men have been detained and are being questioned by Mexican authorities.
The bust is one of the largest human smuggling operations in recent memory, local officials said.
“This has no precedent in recent years, as far as I can remember,” said Luis Alberto Rodriguez, a spokesman for Tamaulipas, told The Journal. “The kids are calm. They are apparently unaware of the situation, of the hardships they are going through.”
Desperate migrants often pay local gangs thousands of dollars to facilitate the risky trips across the border.
The bust is only the latest in an ongoing crisis at the border, which has metastasized throughout 2021. Last month thousands of Haitian migrants flooded into the United States seeking asylum, causing chaos in the small border town of Del Rio, Texas after they camped out under a bridge.
After initially being caught flat-footed, the Biden administration moved to deport them.
On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with officials in Mexico City to discuss how to curb the rise in human smuggling.