LOS ANGELES – Three Mexican men held dozens of illegal immigrants in a squalid "drop house" in South Los Angeles, where one woman was raped and others say they were threatened with sexual assault, authorities said Friday.
Jose Teul, 23, Daniel Pena, 18, and Saul Mendez, 35, were charged with harboring illegal immigrants at the two-story home that immigration agents raided Wednesday, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
The three were arrested along with 57 immigrants, including teenagers and toddlers, from Central and South America, Kice said. It wasn't immediately clear where the three was being held or if they had attorneys.
Kice said that an agent involved in the raid described conditions in the house as "utter squalor with trash and food piled up two to three feet high inside."
Inside the home agents found a pistol and a stun gun that the men allegedly used to threaten the immigrants, said Kice.
According to an affidavit ICE filed in the case, Pena repeatedly raped a woman who had been at the house since last summer. The woman, now seven months pregnant, said Pena threatened her with a gun.
Several other female immigrants said Pena and Teul tried to rape them, relenting only when the women's young children began to cry, according to the affidavit.
The harboring charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The sentence will be harsher if the defendants are found to have committed sexual assault or brandished weapons during the crime, said Kice.
Drop houses are commonly used to hold illegal immigrants until they are transported to their ultimate destination.