HOUSTON – Six men face charges for hiding 67 illegal immigrants in a one-story house in a residential neighborhood, U.S. officials said.
The residence is thought to be one of many houses in the city where human smugglers put illegal immigrants until they can be moved or ransomed, said Luisa Deason, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Police found the stash house Thursday after a man approached an officer asking for help. He told police people at the house were being held for ransom, Houston police spokesman John Cannon said.
Customs officials will begin deportation procedures, Deason said. The immigrants include 26 from Honduras, 24 from El Salvador, 13 from Mexico and two each from Brazil and Guatemala.
Also under investigation is a van service next door, which officials think might have been used to transport some of the immigrants.
Neighbors acknowledged wondering about what was going on at the house.
"We'd heard rumors for years," said Luis Flores, whose family owns a business behind the house. "But it just didn't really look suspicious. You couldn't tell."