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article imageMore than 100 immigrants found in alleged Houston stash house

By Arthur Weinreb     Mar 20, 2014 in Crime
Houston - After receiving a tip, Houston police raided a house and found more than 100 immigrants inside, believed to have entered the U.S. illegally and held against their will. Five arrests were made.
The investigation began Tuesday when police received a tip about family members who were being smuggled into the United States. The caller said a mother, her seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son were supposed to be dropped off at a pre-arranged meeting place in Houston that day. When the smuggler and the family did not show up, the tipster then called police.
Police are not disclosing what led them to a certain house, but they set up surveillance around the property. At around 10 a.m. Wednesday, police saw two people drive away from the home and placed them under arrest. Three others were arrested when they tried to flee.
When police entered the home they discovered, depending upon the source, either 109 or 110 immigrants who were believed to have been smuggled into the United States and being held in the house.
Houston police spokesman John Cannon said, "No one looked to be seriously injured inside the home. They were very hungry and thirsty, and our officers gave them things to eat and provided water. They said they were tired and hungry."
Most of the people in the home were barefoot and in their underwear. According to officials, human traffickers often take peoples' clothes and shoes to deter them from escaping.
A pregnant woman was taken to hospital as a precaution but the rest of the people appeared to be healthy. The ages of the people inside ranged in age from five to 47 and a neighbour described the children coming out of the house as upset and crying.
The condition of the house was described as "awful." Cannon said, "There is no hot water in the house. There is a toilet that partially works — one bathroom for in excess of 100 people." Police found the house littered with human waste and there were deadbolts on the door so the people could not leave.
Those inside the house were loaded onto buses and transported to a detention centre in Houston where they were given food, medical treatment, and investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The immigrants, from Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries are believed to have paid the traffickers to smuggle them into the United States.
According to ICE officials, it has been years since this many people have been found in a Houston house. In 2012, Houston authorities found 86 immigrants in a home.
The names of the five people arrested and the exact charges they will face have not yet been released.
More about stash house, Ice, Illegal immigrants, Human trafficking, Houston police
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