EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexican government airplanes, police officers and canine units are scouring a rural area 40 miles south of Presidio, Texas, looking for a group of migrants believed kidnapped by criminals.

Two smugglers and fourteen Mexican nationals, including a minor, set off from Aldama, Chihuahua, 10 days ago with the intent of finding jobs in Odessa, Texas. Assailants stopped the migrants and the two alleged smugglers on a highway leading to the border town of Ojinaga and they haven’t been since seen, the state attorney general said in a news release late Monday.

Authorities are getting their information from the minor, whom they said escaped his captors. The search centers around a road between the rural communities of Coyame and Lomas de Arena east of Ojinaga.

The Attorney General’s Office released photographs of seven migrants whose family members came to authorities for help. Most of the migrants are from Chihuahua, though some are from Mexico City and Queretaro, authorities said.

Authorities on both sides of the border have told Border Report that drug cartels, particularly Juarez-based La Linea, are aggressively moving in on independent migrant smugglers on the Texas-Chihuahua border. Former Attorney General Cesar Augusto Peniche said the cartels were going so far as to kidnap and murder the smugglers to put their own people in place.

Some of the missing include Amador Aguilar Mendoza, 54; his son, Emmanuel, 25; Luis Carlos Islas Villegas, 30; Jose Luis Pallares, 47; Javier Ricardo Lopez Rodriguez, 38; Benigno Alberto Alvarez Castro, 36; and Lorenzo Abraham Gonzalez Mendoza, 32.

The newspaper El Heraldo de Chihuahua on Tuesday reported it spoke to a relative of the missing who said the escaped minor saw the assailants get everyone off their vehicle, tie up the migrants and beat the two smugglers. The relative told the newspaper the assailants allowed the minor to escape.