In an operation carried out on Sunday, the Mexican federal police rescued 22 undocumented Central American migrants, including eight children, six women and eight men, reports said.

They were held captive in the southern state of Chiapas, which bordered Guatemala.

Four hundred kilograms (2.2 pounds) of cocaine were also seized. The rescued people were kidnapped by human traffickers who vowed to help them cross the Mexico-U.S. border. They were Honduran, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Ecuadorean nationals.

The rescue mission, which was carried out in the Saclamaton and the Santiago del Pinar communities, was a joint operation by the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, the Mexican Federal Police, and the Chiapas General Prosecutor's Office.

The officials received the tip-off when one of the victims managed to flee from the kidnappers. Upon receiving a court order that granted them the power to break into the home, the officials swiftly took action. Following the 36-hour-long operation, they arrested two men guarding the home that held the undocumented migrants.

According to the authorities, the migrants were found living in “inhumane conditions” and showed signs of malnutrition. Some of them suffered from respiratory illnesses. They were all provided medical attention.

The migrants informed the police that they were traveling toward the U.S. The people who captured them offered easy journey to the country. The “polleros”, a term associated with people who illegally smuggle Mexican workers to the U.S., changed the route and soon after held the migrants captive against their will. The captors wanted to demand money from the migrants' families from their respective native countries.

To travel from Chiapas to the central Mexican state of Puebla, near Mexico City, the migrants each paid 15,000 pesos ($790) per person, before they were kidnapped, Chiapas Attorney General Alí Arista Chávez said.

"The rescued migrants will be referred to the National Migration Institute to help grant them humanitarian visas for legal residency," the police said. 

A statement was released by the Ecuadorean Foreign Affairs Ministry confirming the rescue of one of its citizens.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility reported that an Ecuadorian citizen kidnapped in Chiapas, Mexico, was rescued on the morning of this Sunday, August 26, along with 21 other Central American migrants,” the statement said. “The Consulate of Ecuador in Tapachula, is assisting the compatriot, while he has informed his family about the situation. While the Ecuadorian Embassy has requested a thorough investigation of the case.”

Migrants from Central America often fall into similar traps when they attempt to cross Mexico to reach the United States. They are considered as easy prey and is often subjected to robberies, extortions, kidnappings and even murders. They are easily targeted by criminal gangs and border authorities.