Relatives of Central American migrants are sharing stories about their family members being kidnapped and held for ransom in Mexico as they tried to make their way to the U.S.- Mexican border.
According to NBC News, Noticias Telemundo Investiga interviewed 32 migrants kidnapped from 2019 to 2021 in Mexico and the U.S. Their relatives had to pay sometimes up to $5,000 in ransom for each migrant to several different cartels and other criminal organizations.
Oftentimes smugglers who have already been paid thousands of dollars by families to help their loved ones to the border, double-cross relatives already in the U.S. by turning the migrants over to criminals.
Family members then receive telephone calls from these kidnappers warning they must send the money within a set time in order to see their loved ones again.
To get the needed funds, family members had to sell their vehicles or other personal property, drain their savings accounts, and also went into debt, borrowing from other family members and friends in order to quickly raise the needed cash.
Meanwhile, the kidnap victims were treated horribly while being held by the cartels and were only fed once a day.
Those migrants whose families did not pay the ransom were murdered in front of the other captives, a kidnap victim told NBC News.
One man identified as David Sanabria who told the story about how he and his daughter were kidnapped said the bodies of victims were then cut up, cooked, and "human meat" was served to the remaining migrants, so there would be no trace of anything. That's what they had to eat.
"With a machete, they dismembered them, killed them," he recounted, "and the only thing I could do was cover my daughter's eyes and ears so that she would not know what was happening, nor would she have those memories for her whole life."
Sanabria also spoke about the satanic rituals his kidnappers performed at night.
"They knelt down. They had images of the devil, of Santa Muerte. They made pleas. They made offerings. It was something horrible," he told NBC News.
Several of the kidnapping survivors shared the same type of stories with Noticias Telemundo Investiga.
Other families told the Spanish media outlet about receiving videos of some of their kidnapped family members being beaten and then receiving a verbal warning.
"I need you to send the money. It's $25,000 for all of them. You already know that we don't play," according to a voice heard in one of the videos obtained by Noticias Telemundo Investiga.
George Mason University professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera told NBC News the U.S. and Mexico don't have the fortitude to fight the cartels' continued kidnappings of migrants and the extortion of their families.
She noted most of the money paid in these extortion attempts is paid from the United States.
"Many of these sums of money, both from human trafficking and from extortion and kidnapping, are laundered not only in Mexico but also in the United States," Correa-Cabrera said.
Sanabria also had a warning for any migrant trying to cross Mexico. "I want to tell migrants to be very careful because those roads are made of thorns, they are roads of death, of evil shadows, because Mexico is not a safe country for us to cross," he said.
As CBN News has reported, with the human flood crashing the southern border this year, drug cartels are raking in billions from migrants desperate to get into the U.S.