Mexico freezes bank accounts in widening migration clampdown

To prevent US President Donald Trump from following through on his tariff threat, Mexico has offered to send up to 6,000 members of its national guard to secure its southern border with Guatemala, sources tell Reuters.
Mexican soldiers, armed police and migration officials blocked hundreds of migrants after they crossed the border from Guatemala in a caravan into southern Mexico on Wednesday, and detained dozens of them.
A National Migration Institute official checks passenger IDs as a member of the Military Police keeps watch in Mexico.
A National Migration Institute official checks passenger IDs as a member of the Military Police keeps watch in Mexico.PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - The Mexican Finance Ministry said on Thursday (June 6) it blocked the bank accounts of 26 people for their alleged involvement in human trafficking, as Mexico broadens its migration clampdown under intense pressure from US President Donald Trump.

The ministry's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) said in a statement it froze the accounts due to "probable links with human trafficking and illegal aid to migrant caravans."

The FIU added that it would present the cases to the Attorney-General's office.

The United States is looking for Mexico to target people-smuggling organisations as part of a package of actions on immigration to stave off punitive tariffs threatened by Trump.

The move comes a day after the government sent soldiers and armed police to block a large group of migrants crossing into Mexico from Guatemala, detaining at least 350, and arrested two prominent migrant rights activists in Mexico City.

The government's crackdown on different aspects of migration coincides with meetings this week between Mexican and US officials in Washington to thrash out a deal to avoid the tariffs kicking in on Monday.

Trump last week said Mexico must take a harder line on migrants or face 5 per cent tariffs on all its exports to the United States from June 10, rising to as much as 25 per cent later this year.

Mexico's Ministry of Finance and Public Credit said it mapped financial transactions of people along a route travelled by "migrant caravans" since October 2018.

"A group of people were identified who, in the period of migrant caravans, made unusual operations from Chiapas and Queretaro to different countries, including some considered risky jurisdictions by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),"the statement said.


Since April 2018, Trump has lashed out at caravans of Central Americans wending their way to the United States, raising their profile for migrants while blaming Mexico for failing to stop their movement to the US border.

The caravans are groups of hundreds of mainly Central Americans, many fleeing poverty and violence, who travel together for protection on a 3,000km trail otherwise ridden with criminals and corrupt officials who prey on lone travelers through kidnapping, extortion and other forms of assault.