An enraged mob of local residents lynched three alleged criminals whom they accused of attempting to extort a farmer in eastern Guatemala, near the border with El Salvador, authorities said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the National Civil Police told reporters Wednesday that a group of "more than 500" people living in and near the village of El Botadero, located on the outskirts of the city of Jutiapa, "snatched" the trio Tuesday night from police officers who minutes earlier had arrested them.

The mob then "beat and lynched them," killing all three men.

According to the police report, the three men went to the home of a local farmer and demanded 200,000 quetzales (about $25,000) from him in exchange for leaving his relatives unharmed.

"As they did not receive the money, they attacked the wife (of the farmer) and caused heavy damage in the house," for which they were arrested by police officers who noticed the unfolding situation, the police source said.

However, word of mouth swept through the village and a mob gathered and intercepted the police patrol that was transporting the criminals to jail, took the three men, beat and then burned them alive.

The officers managed to rescue Milton Reyes, 20, after the crowd had set him on fire, and transported him to a nearby hospital where he died a few hours later from his serious injuries.

The other two men who were killed were burned to death at the scene of the lynching and have not been identified.

According to statistics compiled by the non-governmental Mutual Support Group, which analyzes acts of violence in Guatemala, there have been 38.5 percent more lynchings in the Central American country so far this year than during the same period in 2012.

Human rights organizations attribute lynchings to the lack of security and the authorities' failure to mete out justice in the interior of Guatemala, above all in indigenous communities. EFE