More than 100 people found crammed into squalid stash house

Immigration officials are working to sort things out after more than 100 people were found in a house on Houston's south side
March 19, 2014 8:25:39 PM PDT
Worried family members trying to bring loved ones to this country called police when things didn't go as planned. And in turn, police found a stash house stuffed with more than 100 people.

According to Houston police, on Tuesday night family members expected to meet a coyote, or an immigrant smuggler, to pay money in exchange for a 24-year-old woman, a five-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl. When the coyote didn't show up, the family called HPD.

While officers were looking for the family members overnight, they came across information that led them to a small house just south of Beltway 8 on Houston's south side. Police set up surveillance at 10am on the 1,500 square foot home in the 14700 block of Almeda School.

HPD detained two men on a traffic stop Wednesday morning after they left the house.

When officers entered the home, they described it as opening a door and seeing a sea of people. More than 100 people were crammed inside the 1,500 square foot home.

"I think we have every country from Central America represented," said Greg Palmore with Homeland Security.

Officers describe the conditions as squalid, with no furniture, no hot water and only one toilet for all those people.

"It's a classic sign of a smuggling operation where people are treated like animals, more so than human beings," said HPD spokesperson John Cannon. "We're glad we got these five people in custody."

The woman and two children sought by family members were found in the home. Additionally, officers say they found 94 men, 15 women and 1 pregnant woman, who was taken to a hospital.

Police believe five men were responsible for the human smuggling operation.

The bust came on the eve of a congressional field hearing in Houston. Late Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the Houst Homeland Security Committee, issued the following statement:

"This case demonstrates the human tragedy that occurs as a result of our broken borders. Last year over 100,000 people entered the United States illegally through Texas alone and the Department of Homeland Security has no plan to stop the flow."

That congressional field hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning at the Texas Southern University campus.

More than 200 chickens were also rescued from the stash house.

The man who owns the house told us he didn't know his tenants were doing this.

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