The chief prosecutor for the northern state of San Luis Potosi said the victims were found alive by the side of the road on Tuesday evening, apparently abandoned by their captors.
Prosecutor Federico Garza Herrera said the group included 16 Mexicans and 22 foreigners, including three children and a pregnant woman.
It was not immediately clear whether the foreigners were asylum seekers or migrants. Early reports suggested some were Venezuelans. Immigration authorities were checking their status in the country as authorities scrambled to prove the motivation for the kidnapping.
The kidnapping took place Tuesday morning at a hotel in the town of Matehuala.
Prosecutors said three SUVs carrying gunmen arrived before dawn at the Sol y Luna Hotel and abducted the guests.
Some of the identification documents of the victims were found inside the rooms. The kidnappers apparently also took the hotel’s guest diary.
The abducted people were later found by the National Guard and police on a road outside Matehuala after a caller said a group of people were calling for help on the road.
Many asylum seekers and migrants hoping to reach the United States face great danger along the way, with kidnappings, extortion, rape and even killings reported. Some are enlisted to work for drug cartels who fight for drug trafficking routes.
These people often bear the brunt of infighting between criminal groups, with gangs often charging smugglers a fee per person brought into their territory.
Rival gangs also sometimes simply hijack groups of asylum seekers and migrants from other traffickers.
In June, New York-based Human Rights First reported that some 3,300 asylum seekers and migrants stranded in Mexico since January due to US border policies had been kidnapped, raped, trafficked or assaulted. .
President Joe Biden’s administration used a health rule, citing the coronavirus pandemic, to turn back most people from the border. However, it allowed unaccompanied minors to cross into the United States.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration had sought to end the so-called “stay in Mexico” policy created under former President Donald Trump, which forces people seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico while their case is processed.
Attempts to end the program were blocked by a district judge. The appeal of the Biden administration’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court was unsuccessful.