Five People Charged Smuggling 115 Undocumented Immigrants in Houston Home

Houston, TX- Last week, ICE agents and Houston Police, acting on a tip, raided a stash house in Houston where 115 undocumented immigrants were being held captive in squalid conditions. Now, five men are facing federal charges for human smuggling and other charges.

Law enforcement agents found 115 men, women and children being held captive in the small one-story house with only one bathroom. There was no hot water, no power and very little food in the house that had padlocks on the doors and boarded up windows.

Human traffickers stash immigrants they helped get across the border until they are able to extort money from the immigrants’ families.

The captives who are all suspected of being undocumented immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, were only allowed to wear their underwear and had no shoes, presumably to keep them from attempting escape.

Houston law enforcement received a call from woman who said she was contacted by the smugglers demanding ransom for her granddaughter and her two children ages 7 and 5. They kidnappers failed to show up for a meeting so the woman contacted law enforcement for help.

Acting on that tip, Houston police spokesman John Cannon told the Los Angeles Times that police began watching the home on Wednesday, March 19 and saw two men leaving. They were stopped by police who found guns and “paper indicating illegal activity,” Cannons said which gave them probable cause to search the home.

Inside the home they found the immigrants crammed in there like animals. Some said they had been there a few days but one woman said she had been trapped in the home for 15 days, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The immigrants will be questioned and fingerprinted by ICE agents and many could face deportation. Some of the children were released to family members while their fate is determined.

Three men were apprehended trying to flee the home.

ICE Special Agent Brian Moskowitz told a congressional hearing in Houston Thursday the five suspects were held on offenses that included hostage taking, weapons charges and conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants, CBS reported.

Stash houses are not uncommon in Houston since it is in relatively close proximity to the Southern Border, but Moskowitz said this was the largest operation he has seen in the last five years.

Each year, millions of people try to immigrate to the U.S., but there are strict limits on the number of people who are allowed to legally migrate. This is stash house is among the many around the country and shows the lengths immigrants will go to in order to enter the U.S.

Legal immigration can be a complicated and time-consuming process so many immigrants choose the route of illegal entry. Not only can this be perilous and often deadly but it can also prohibit immigrants from ever obtaining legal status. Before immigrants embark on a dangerous journey; they should speak with an immigration attorney to discuss how they can legally enter the states.