A group of rescued migrants believed they had made it to the United States but were actually being kept in captivity by human smugglers, Mexican officials said Thursday.
Police in the Mexican border city of Nogales said the 44 migrants were rescued from two houses after being held captive for 15 to 20 days. Their smugglers had told them they were already in Tucson, Arizona.
One of the migrants alerted police after tricking one of their guards and escaping, authorities said.
Several women were among those being held, but there were no reports of children also being detained. It was unclear where the migrants are from.
The migrants told police the smugglers had charged them $6,000 each and first took them to hotels. But the migrants were then dropped off at the two houses and were threatened with death, police said.
One of the migrants told police the group believed they would be murdered after having been held against their will for so long.