Four arrested in alleged human smuggling ring in Harris County

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The dark underbelly of illegal immigration often goes unnoticed in the streets of Houston. However, law enforcement accused four men of being violent human smugglers who threatened to kill a man.

Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman made the announcement during a news conference. He said his agency's investigation started after a Maryland family called frantically, fearing their Mexican brother was in danger.

Investigators said the family drove to Texas and agreed to pay human smugglers $2,000 for their brother's passage into the United States. The smugglers demanded $900 more once the family arrived into the area. Constable Herman said that's when the family called authorities, who set up a sting operation.

The operation resulted in the arrests of Kilmer Roberto Yanes Zavala, Weldin Yobany Ayala Soriano, Hector Rodruguez Sanchez, and the discovery of a stash house in the 1400 block of Sellers Road in Houston.

Law enforcement raided the stash house where they found three Mexican men, in their underwear, locked in a room. They also arrested another accused smuggler, Heivi Martinez-Garcia. Constable Herman said the three men also are illegal immigrants who paid smugglers to get them into the country. However, they then kept them for slave labor and sent the money back to a crime ring in Mexico.
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