On Wednesday morning, 109 individuals were discovered inside a locked residence–Houston Police Department (HPD) spokesman John Cannon confirmed to Breitbart Texas.
Cannon said that the home, located on Almeda School Road, appeared to be the site of a human trafficking scene. When officers initially entered the home around 11 a.m. this morning, “they saw a sea of people, some sitting on top of each other,” Cannon said. “The conditions inside were filthy and dirty. Everywhere you looked there were clothes on the floor. There was one bathroom, no hot water, and a toilet that was only partially working… We got all the people out of the home. They were very tired and hungry so we provided them with food and water.”
94 males and 15 females, ages five to 50, were being held inside the home. Many were children, some who seemed to be without parents. Cannon said that three of the individuals, thought to be smugglers, attempted to run away from police and were arrested as a result. Although no individuals on the scene appeared to be injured, Cannon said one woman found in the home was pregnant–she was transported by a nearby hospital to receive care.
At this point, it is unclear how long the individuals were being held in the house, but several of them told HPD officers they were there for two to four days.
Cannon also noted that several large coops containing hundreds of chickens were found on the residence, “indicating illegal activity with chickens be it fighting or other operations.”
Greg Palmore of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Breibart Texas that the alleged human stash house is the largest he has ever seen during his seven years on the job. He said, “To date this is the largest numbers of individuals in one residence I have ever seen.”
Although the stashed individuals” citizenship status has not yet been determined, Palmore said they are likely in the U.S. illegally.
All of the recovered individuals are currently in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “The people will be taken to ICE’s detention facility where they will be processed–they will each be finger printed and interviewed, one by one,” Palmore said.
Cannon said that the house was discovered after family members of a 24-year-old woman contacted police. The family members “were told to go to a location in North Houston and exchange ransom money to pick up the woman and her two kids,” Cannon said. “When the suspect did not show up, the family became concerned and contacted the HPD.”
HPD officers were able to connect the family members to the house on Almeda School Road and set up surveillance cameras on the property. At 10 a.m., officers saw a vehicle leaving the residence. Officers pulled over the vehicle–they found several firearms and other evidence indicating illegal activity. The decision was then made to enter the house, in search of the woman and two children.
Officers were surprised to find the “massive” group of people they discovered upon entering the house.
The case is being investigated by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the HPD, and ICE.
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