Migrants from several countries abducted from a bus and held by armed men for days near Mexico’s border with Texas were released by their captors, not rescued as initially reported by authorities, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday.


“They decided to let them go,” López Obrador said during his morning press briefing. The 32 migrants — authorities corrected the initial number of 31 after discovering there was a baby among the group that had not been included because it hadn’t purchased a bus ticket — were from Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras and Mexico.

The president said that the migrants had been left in the parking lot of a shopping center in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, and that no arrests had been made.

Armed and masked men on Saturday stopped the bus on the highway that connects the border cities of Reynosa and Matamoros, Federal Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez said Wednesday. They were taken away aboard five vehicles.

Organized crime groups that control the border area regularly kidnap migrants to hold them for ransom.

The size of this group was unusual, but not unprecedented.

The organized crime group responsible for the abductions was not identified and has not commented on the reason for their release. But often the increased presence of authorities that comes with a high-profile event makes it difficult for cartels to carry out their day-to-day operations smuggling drugs, migrants, weapons and money across the border.