Cops Find 'Sea of People' Held Hostage in Texas Home

Smugglers held more than 100 inside squalid Houston 'stash house'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2014 7:04 AM CDT
Cops Find 'Sea of People' Held Hostage in Stash House
People wait outside a house as authorities hold an investigation, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in southeast Houston.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Cody Duty)

Police staking out a squalid Houston home have uncovered the city's largest stash house in recent years, and it's pretty grim: The building was covered in human waste, had no hot water, and just one partially-working toilet for the more than 100 people held hostage inside. After a tip that human smugglers were demanding more money of a woman they helped bring across the border from Mexico, along with her two children, police entered the home yesterday to find a "sea of people coming at the officers as they entered," a police rep tells the Houston Chronicle. Among the "hungry, thirsty, and exhausted" hostages—some had been held there for more than two weeks—were 94 men, 14 women, and two children, aged 5 and 7.

"The smell and conditions were just awful," the police rep continues, describing "bodies upon bodies, people stacked on top of each other. Dirty, filthy, conditions," per KPRC. Hostages were kept shoeless—to make it harder to run away—and males could only wear underwear. "This case demonstrates the human tragedy that occurs as a result of our broken borders," says Rep. Mike McCaul. "Last year over 100,000 people entered the United States illegally through Texas alone and the Department of Homeland Security has no plan to stop the flow." Five smugglers have been arrested, KHOU reports, while most of the hostages—believed to be from Central American countries—were sent to a detention facility to be examined; they are now likely to be deported, the Chronicle notes. (More human smuggling stories.)

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