Authorities rescued 38 Central American migrants who were being sexually exploited in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, the National Migration Institute, or INM, said.

The migrants - 36 women and two men - are from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, the INM said in a statement.

Authorities staged operations targeting six bars in the city of Tapachula and four in Benemerito de Las Americas, arresting two suspected people traffickers.

Two Mexican women were also rescued in the operations, the INM said.

Soldiers, marines, INM officers and state police took part in the operations, "which are part of a wide-raning strategy by the INM to fight people trafficking in its different forms," the agency said.

The migrants were taken to the immigration stations in Comitan and Tapachula, where they will be housed until the investigation is completed, the INM 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. EFE