More than 90 migrants found in Houston house as police bust human smuggling racket, some show Covid-19 symptoms
SOUTHEAST HOUSTON, TEXAS: Houston police came across more than 90 migrants in a two-story home while investigating a suspected kidnapping on Friday. The investigation was carried out after obtaining a search warrant, and during which police found at least 85 men and at least 5 women crammed inside the residence believed to belong to human smugglers.
The occupants were all in their 20s and 30s and were living in deplorable conditions, and hadn't eaten in a while. Some of them even had symptoms of Covid-19, seeing that they were running a fever and had lost their sense of smell and taste.
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Who is the owner of the home?
Houston Police Assistant Chief Daryn Edwards hosted a news conference on Friday, during which he mentioned that there was no information yet regarding who owned the home or brought the group of people to the same. The neighbors didn't report any suspicious activity either. The police withheld the information regarding who tipped them off about the kidnapping.
The Houston police also put out a tweet about the same. "HPD Commanders and PIO at 12200 Chessington Drive after dozens of persons found inside a residence. Incident initially reported as a kidnapping and may possibly involve human smuggling. Media briefing expected in about an hour. #HouNews," it read.
HPD Commanders and PIO at 12200 Chessington Drive after dozens of persons found inside a residence. Incident initially reported as a kidnapping and may possibly involve human smuggling. Media briefing expected in about an hour. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/uNyKoYy00n— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) April 30, 2021
The youngest person was in their early 20s, with most of the immigrants having come from Central America, as they told police. There were no minors among the group. Things were set in motion after police received a call reporting a kidnapping on Thursday night. The homicide department began investigating the same through the night to get information about the kidnapped victim.
Law enforcement arrived at the residence in Chessington with a search warrant for the house, which was allegedly being rented out.
As reported by CNN, Edwards mentioned that the authorities brought the victims food and water, seeing that they hadn't eaten in a while. The group was kept in a home and is to be given rapid tests, on account of displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
"They were all huddled together, split between two rooms, wearing basic clothing, and were not tied up," Edwards said. He also mentioned that the house was unfurnished, except for mattresses propped up against the walls. He also added that the situation wasn't as bad as one might think, saying that "It didn't look like ... they were going to the bathroom on the floor."
"It was a big surprise when we got in the house and saw what we saw," he explained. "It is definitely more of a smuggling thing than a trafficking thing," he added.
The investigation will be led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
"We always ask the community if you see something say something ... we all need to work together," Edwards said during the conference. "This isn't something we see often but it is disturbing," he concluded.
"This is very unnecessary and very cruel," Patricia Cantu, assistant chief of the Houston Police Department, said. "It is heartbreaking to see people treated that way. They are human beings, and regardless of citizenship, they deserve to … be treated respectfully."