Houston TX Saturday, October 20, 2007
Immigration officials were at a house in North Houston where 10 people, presumed to be illegal immigrants, were reportedly being held against their will. Among those found in the smugglers’ stash house was an 8-year-old girl from Honduras.
Authorities were originally called to the home about 9 a.m. on a tip that three smugglers were holding the nine adults and little girl hostage.
Officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement were on scene most of the morning and transported the immigrants to a local detention center. All 10 people were reported to be in good condition.
Police had three men they suspect of being "coyotes" or people smugglers in custody.
Such finds are not rare. Local police have come across similar situations before where the coyotes who charge illegal immigrants a fee to bring them across the border, demand more money once they are in the United States.
Until those they transported either come up with the money from family or friends that are already in the country, the smugglers will hold the immigrants hostage.
"Unless they came to pay up with the money, something was going to happen,” said Houston police officer Ricardo Rojas Rios. "An eight-year-old female was held in a closet with her uncle. So I think that's where they were being kept at.
“Some (of the immigrants) were going to North Carolina and I believe the 8-year-old’s mom is in Maryland.”