A criminal complaint charges Raul Ramirez-Martinez and five others with harboring the people at a Brownsville home. Authorities say Ramirez-Martinez organized the operation and is being detained without bond.
Officials determined all 72 were in the country illegally after they were discovered Thursday.
The Brownsville Herald reports federal investigators called one of the contacts in a cellphone found in the house. The agents, posing as immigrants who escaped the raid, asked to be picked up. The ruse led to the arrest of the suspects.
The criminal complaint says Ramirez-Martinez acknowledged he was paid by someone in Mexico to lead the operation.
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