A total of 38 Central American migrants were detained in three operations in the southern state of Chiapas and the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, with a suspected people trafficker arrested and a Mexican captive freed, the Mexican Government Secretariat said.

Two of the operations were staged in Chiapas, which is on the border with Guatemala, with 25 people, including 15 Guatemalans and 10 Salvadorans, detained by police, the secretariat said.

The migrants were found during "inspections of different vehicles traveling" on the Tepic-Puente Talisman highway, the secretariat said in a statement, without revealing when the operations took place.

The third operation was staged in Ciudad Madero, a city in Tamaulipas, where police detained 13 migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as a Mexican, who "were deprived of their liberty in a house," the secretariat said.

"After undertaking fixed and mobile stakeouts around the Joyas de Miramapolis subdivision, federal personnel had contact with an armed subject as he entered a residence and he was immediately intercepted," the secretariat said.

"An inspection of the house turned up the migrants, who could not prove they were in the country legally and said the individual arrested was responsible for holding them captive," the secretariat said.

An estimated 300,000 Central Americans undertake the hazardous journey across Mexico each year on their way to the United States.

The trek is a dangerous one, with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials preying on the migrants.

Gangs kidnap, exploit and murder migrants, who are often targeted in extortion schemes, Mexican officials say.

Central American migrants follow a long route that first takes them into Chiapas state, which is on the border with Guatemala, walking part of the way or riding aboard freight trains, buses and cargo trucks. EFE