Military personnel and National Migration Institute, or INM, agents detained 1,438 undocumented foreigners, the majority of them Guatemalans, during an operation in southern Mexico, officials said Sunday.

"Operation Soconusco II," which took place from Jan. 17 to Feb. 14 in Chiapas state, also led to the arrests of 74 other people, of whom 70 are Mexicans, on drug, people trafficking and other charges, the Defense Secretariat, the Navy Secretariat and the INM said in a joint statement.

Authorities detained 955 Guatemalans, 241 Hondurans, 218 Salvadorans, 14 Cubans, six Nicaraguans, an American, a Panamanian, a Dominican and an Ecuadorian.

Officials labeled the detentions of the immigrants a "rescue."

"Via this interagency operation, we protected and safeguarded the physical integrity and human rights of those who in their transit through Chiapas state were victimized by criminal organizations dedicated to extorting (money from) migrants," the agencies said.

The security forces seized vehicles, chemicals, drugs, firearms and cash, among other property, from the suspects, officials 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