News

More than 100 found in human trafficking raid

More than 100 found in human trafficking raid

PEOPLE FOUND: The fence along the international border between Mexico and the United States is seen in Penitas, Texas April 2, 2013 file photo. Photo: Reuters/Eric Thayer

By Andrea Lorenz

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Police found more than 100 foreign nationals from Central America and Mexico being warehoused in a rundown Houston-area residence during a raid on Wednesday into a suspected human smuggling operation.

Five people were arrested on suspicion of running the smuggling ring, while almost all of the group of 93 males and 15 females were also taken into custody on suspicion of entering the country illegally.

Many of the people came from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. There were also five children in the group, one as young as 5 years old, official said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore said this was one of the largest groups of people suspected of entering the country illegally discovered in a raid in several years in the border state of Texas.

“It’s safe to assume it’s an alleged smuggling investigation, but the extent hasn’t been ascertained,” Palmore said.

The group was being held in a 2,200 square-foot (204 square-meter) building with one bathroom, surrounded by land where pigs, geese and chickens were being kept, Palmore said.

Houston police found the group on the compound in south Houston while investigating a complaint of someone being held hostage, police spokesman John Cannon said.

The building’s windows were covered with plywood, and the doors had locks on them that could only be opened from outside, Cannon said.

Many people were being held in trash-filled rooms that were so cramped, it looked like “a sea of people,” Cannon said.

Several hundred chickens were also found on the premises, which police believed were used in illegal cockfighting. The chickens were turned over to the Houston SPCA, he said.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

5 hours ago in Local

Lawmakers Honor Lincoln at Lincoln’s Tomb

2-12-16 Lincoln Tomb

Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, says a Republican like Abraham Lincoln is still someone for which we should place great honor.

6 hours ago in Local

Grant Encourages Better Farm Conservation

farm

If you're a farmer in the 21st Century, you're probably hearing about - if not practicing - "precision farming." And that extends to conservation practices, too.

10 hours ago in Local

Rauner to Close Juvenile Prison

juvenile justice

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says it will close the youth correctional facility in Kewanee, near Peoria and the Quad Cities.

10 hours ago in Local

$1 Million Donated for Governor’s Mansion Repairs

governor's mansion

The organization leading efforts to renovation the Illinois governor's mansion says it received $1 million in donations last year toward efforts to fix a leaky roof and other things.

10 hours ago in Local

Illinois Up for Federal Transportation Money

road construction

Illinois transportation planners are awaiting details of how they could use a potential multi-million windfall for the state.