HOUSTON – Federal agents arrested 46 illegal immigrants being held in a locked, filthy house. Nine suspected human smugglers also were arrested.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials believe smugglers were holding the immigrants until friends or relatives could "buy them out," said spokeswoman Luisa Deason. Agents went to the house Wednesday after receiving an anonymous tip, she said.
"The conditions inside the house were extremely deplorable," Deason said. "There were four or five bedrooms in which the aliens were being kept behind locked doors. There was a real bad smell in the house, and there was garbage."
No charges had been filed as of Wednesday night.
Officials will interview the immigrants and check for criminal records or previous deportation arrests. They also will be questioned about the suspected smugglers and how long they were held.
The 46 immigrants included 10 women and eight youths between the ages of 8 and 17. The group was made up of 11 Mexicans, 19 Hondurans, 10 El Salvadorans, five Guatemalans and one Brazilian.