File picture of Mexican Federal Police
A unit of the Mexican Federal Police patrols the surroundings of the Puente Grande State prison (background) in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco State, Mexico. Photo by Hector Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images

Federal forces in Mexico's Cancun rescued seven immigration agents, who were kidnapped, beaten up and threatened to be killed by suspected drug cartel gunmen, Wednesday.

The kidnapping took place near Cancun airport. The forces, which reportedly included marines and the National Guard, located the house where the agents were kept as hostages, and engaged with the kidnappers in a gun battle to free them.

After being released, the agents said that the gunmen threatened to murder them if they didn't allow migrants to be smuggled via the airport and different parts of Quintana Roo state.

"The criminals used several vehicles to box in and crash the van the INM agents were traveling in," the National Immigration Agency said, AP News reported. "The agents were forced to get out at gunpoint, were beaten, taken to a safe house."

The agency didn't reveal how long the agents were kept hostage, but said, "They received death threats and were warned not to take part in operations against illegal immigrants moving through the state."

The officials also did not disclose whether any agent was injured during the crossfire.

The gang has not been identified yet, but the institute said they acted in a "criminal conspiracy" -- a legal term used for drug cartels in Mexico.

Cancun has Mexico's second-busiest airport, which handles around 30 million people every year. The city is known as a center point for smuggling U.S.-bound migrants to Mexico, as most of the flights come from Latin American countries.

The kidnapping comes as many migrants are leaving their countries due to economic and political crises.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 7.7 million Venezuelans in total have left the country for a better life, with around 444,000 settling in Chile. Last month, the U.S. resumed its deportation flights of Venezuelans from Texas, dropping roughly 130 passengers to Caracas.

After Mexico witnessed a three-month surge in illegal border crossings, last month, the country saw a 14% decline in illegal border crossings in October in comparison to September.

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