CHAHUITES, Mexico (AP) – Mexico’s largest crackdown in decades on illegal migration has decreased the flow of Central Americans trying to reach the United States, and has dramatically cut the number of child migrants and families, according to officials and eyewitness accounts along the perilous route.
Convoys of Mexican federal police and immigration service employees in southern Mexico have begun scouring the tracks of the infamous freight train known as “La Bestia,” or The Beast, that has long carried crowds of migrants on its lumbering route north. They have also set up moving roadblocks, checking the documents of passengers on interstate buses.
Associated Press journalists witnessed dozens of federal police and Mexican immigration agents storming the train as it came to an unscheduled stop in the post-midnight darkness Friday.
“We’re federal agents! Give up! You’re surrounded! Come down carefully!” the lawmen shouted to the huddled, stunned migrants.
Fewer than 15 were detained on a train that once carried 600 to 1,000 migrants at a time.
American and Mexican officials say they are noticing the same drop-off all along the route.
The roundups follow U.S. requests for help from Mexico.