MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican rights activists said Wednesday they have reports of three cases in which private railroad guards have killed migrants trying to ride freight trains to the U.S. border.
Leticia Gutierrez of the Scalabrinian religious order said the organization also has evidence that five migrants were killed by state or local police in recent months.
Central American migrants used to crowd north-bound freight trains until Mexico cracked down in 2014, sending police and migration agents to raid the trains.
But activists say armed guards from a shadowy private company based in Mexico state have pulled migrants from trains, beating them and shooting at them with shotguns.
Scalabrinian migrant mission activist Carlos Aaron Rodriguez said that the bodies of three young migrants were found near the train tracks in a stretch between the central Mexico cities of Queretaro and Celaya.
Rodriguez said that other migrants claim to have witnessed the black-clad security guards shooting at the victims.
The Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, a Roman Catholic priest who heads a migrant shelter, said the private guards had been involved in "beating, torturing and giving electric shocks" to Central American migrants in at least two states.
One of the main railway lines in Mexico denied using such guards, and said its own employees simply report migrants to the appropriate authorities.
Kansas City Southern Mexico said in a statement that "our work regarding the difficult situation of migrants riding aboard freight trains is limited to reporting this to authorities, and cooperating with them."
The other main railway line, and Mexican immigration and interior department officials, did not respond to requests for comment.