HOUSTON, TEXAS–Five individuals stand accused of armed conspiracy to detain and threaten foreign nationals–including women and children–for the purpose of forcing third parties to make ransom payments, as previously reported by Breitbart Texas. A criminal complaint obtained by Breitbart Texas lists Jose Aviles-Villa, Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, Antonio Barruquet-Hildiberta, Jose Cesmas-Borja, and Eugenio Sesmas-Borja as defendants in the nationally-reported human trafficking case before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances H. Stacey.
Jose Aviles-Villa and Jose Cesmas-Borja admitted to being Mexican nationals illegally in the United States, according to the filed complaint.
The complaint was filed after 115 individuals were found locked in an alleged human “stash house” outside of Houston on Almeda School Road according to federal court documents filed on March 24.
The criminal complaint alleges the five defendants “detained and threatened” the hostages–who are thought to be illegal immigrants–to extort money.
On March 19, police received a phone call from the mother of Anna Jasmin Hernandez. Houston Police Department (HPD) spokesperson John Cannon told Breitbart Texas the woman’s 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. When the suspect did not show up, the family became concerned and contacted the HPD.”
According to the criminal complaint, the mother initially paid smugglers $15,000 to have her daughter and grandchildren transported to Chicago, Illinois. She subsequently received a call from individuals in Houston who told her to pay an additional $13,000 or else her family would “disappear,” according to the court record.
Phone records of the victim’s family ultimately led HPD officers to the house on Almeda School Road, where surveillance cameras were set up on the property, as recently reported by Breitbart Texas. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 19, officers saw a vehicle leaving the residence. Officers pulled over the vehicle–allegedly finding several firearms and other evidence indicating illegal activity. The decision was then made to enter the house in search of the missing woman and two children, according to court reports.
When officers initially entered the home around 11 a.m., “they saw a sea of people, some sitting on top of each other,” Cannon told Breitbart Texas. “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.”
According to the criminal complaint, the windows on the house were boarded up and most of the doors had deadbolt locks. “A wooden paddle, a stungun, two shotguns and several types of ammunition were found inside the residence,” the complaint said.
115 hostages, the majority of whom were male, were found inside the home, according to court files. The Houston Chronicle reported that seventeen of the individuals were juveniles. Cannon said that three individuals attempted to run away from police and were subsequently arrested–they were later identified as Solorzano-Tavila, Barruquet-Hildiberta and Sesmas-Borja. 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, according to local reports.
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.”
All five defendants were interviewed by HSI agents on March 19, according to the criminal complaint. The case is being investigated by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the HPD, and ICE.
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate