Alleged human smugglers arrested in SE Houston

June 15, 2010 2:27:12 PM PDT
Arrests have been made after police discovered a possible human smuggling operation at a southeast Houston home. Investigators say a total of nine people were being held against their will inside a home on Corl near Midvale. Two of them were children: a 9-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy. All of them are believed to be illegal immigrants.

"I couldn't believe it. It was just unbelievable," said neighbor Eliana Lopez.

Lopez was stunned to see police swarming around her neighbor's home, neighbors now accused of running a human smuggling operation.

"These people, ever since they moved in, there was always activity at 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock in the morning," said neighbor Cinthya Mena.

Overnight, sources say one of the adult males escaped from the house and ran to a nearby convenience store, claiming he and his family were being held against their will. Police got the tip and made arrests on the spot.

"When they first moved in there were women and four or five kids. But we thought it was the people moving in there," said neighbor Marina Roman.

Now the home that was empty until just last month is empty again, as Houston police and immigration officials investigate.

"Right now, I'm thinking my God, I need to look at my neighbors and see what they're doing," said Roman.

Police say the three suspects in custody - Alejandro Perez, Jorge Ortiz Mendez and Servando Ortiz Mendez - are now charged with aggravated kidnapping. Their immigration status is unknown at this time.


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