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31 Cubans Rescued From Captivity in Mexico

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Picture taken inside a Federal Police patrol car on the Matamoros-Ciudad Victoria highway, Tamaulipas State, Mexico, on December 17, 2015. (Credit: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican federal police rescued 31 Cubans being held in captivity in the Mexican city of Benito Juárez, in the southern state of Quintana Roo, authorities said.

The 22 men and nine women were held in overcrowded conditions inside a home, according to a federal police statement. Authorities were alerted to the migrants by a tip off from a local resident.

The victims said a group of hooded and armed individuals kept them in captivity and demanded money in exchange for being released, the statement said.

The immigrants said they lacked documents to prove their legal status in the country, the statement said.

Federal police provided food and drinks and transferred the Cubans to a location “for medical evaluation and to receive support in order to be granted assisted return through the corresponding instances,” the statement said.

Benito Juarez is in southeast Mexico on the Caribbean, about 300 miles from Havana.

While it was not clear whether the Cubans had hoped to stay in Mexico or were in the country as a transit point, Cuban migrants leaving economic struggles in their homeland have flooded Central America and specifically Mexico in recent years with the goal of eventually reaching the United States.

Cuban citizens’ ability to settle in the United States has long by facilitated by various US administrations. But one of the final acts of President Barack Obama was to end the decades-long immigration policy that allowed Cuban migrants to gain legal residency if they made it safely onto US soil.

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