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Mexican officials searched Friday for 37 illegal migrants
The migrants were being taken to a detention center in southern Chiapas state when about six masked men with assault rifles forced seven unarmed immigration agents and two drivers off the bus late Wednesday. The gunmen fled with the 33 Cubans and four Central Americans.

Mexico's federal Attorney General's office opened an investigation into the unusual kidnappings and planned to question immigration agents about the attack.

Authorities believe an international smuggling ring may be involved and may be trying to take the migrants to Miami, Florida, said an immigration official in Chiapas, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name.

The official said authorities are still trying to identify the armed men and their nationalities. A search is under way to find them.

The migrants were being transported from Cancun to a detention center in Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, where they would be held while authorities determined whether to release them or deport them, the official said.

Mexico's Navy detained the Cubans on June 7, after they were found on a yacht off Cancun's coast. The Cubans told authorities they had left Old Havana on a makeshift boat and later boarded the yacht, aboard which two men had promised to take them to Florida, the immigration official said.

The Central Americans had been working construction jobs in Cancun before being detained, the immigration official said.

Police in the southern states of Chiapas, Veracruz and Oaxaca were alerted to keep an eye out for the migrants.

Cubans increasingly travel through Mexico to reach the U.S. by land, instead of trying to get past U.S. Coast Guard patrols off Florida.

Most Cubans who arrive in Mexico are released after being held for 90 days at an immigration center.


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