HomeNewsBriefPolice Discover Over 100 Captive CentAm Migrants in Texas Home
BRIEF

Police Discover Over 100 Captive CentAm Migrants in Texas Home

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 21 MAR 2014 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

US authorities have discovered a home in Texas where human smugglers were keeping over 100 undocumented migrants against their will, providing a high-profile example of how organized crime manifests itself north of the border.

At the house in southeast Houston, 94 men and 15 women were being held for ransom in squalid conditions, reported La Prensa Grafica. Houston police made the discovery after receiving a call from a Houston family about a woman who, along with her children, failed to appear with her human smuggler, or “coyote,” at a designated meeting point.

Houston police spokesman John Cannon said inside the house they found “bodies upon bodies, people stacked on top of each other.” The house had one partially functioning bathroom and no hot water, and human waste covered the floor, reported the New York Daily News. Migrants reported having been in the house anywhere from several days to two weeks.

Greg Palmore, spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said this was the largest number of people discovered in such a house in five years, and that while it was too soon to determine if this was a human trafficking operation, it appeared so, reported Prensa Grafica.

The migrants were principally from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. Five men who appeared to be running the network have been detained.

InSight Crime Analysis

The road north for Latin American migrants attempting to reach the United States is filled with peril, with various criminal organizations collecting revenue from migrants by charging tolls along the route. Migrants also risk being kidnapped, beaten and raped by criminals.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Smuggling

Migrants who undertake the journey often choose to employ the services of a professional smuggler, or “coyote,” to lower the chances of being victimized. These smugglers, however, are unreliable at best. With their “clients” beholden to them, coyotes are known to sometimes demand more money.

There is also the risk of what Texas authorities have referred to as a “coyote rip,” when gangs kidnap migrants and demand ransom money. This occurred in a 2011 case involving MS13 members in Houston, in which the smuggler had apparently failed to pay a tax to the gang.

The migrants in the current case may have been subject to a similar fate, while the sheer number of people being held captive suggests the smugglers were affiliated with a larger criminal network. It is also probable that there are other houses in the area being used for the same purpose.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America's largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 26 JUL 2013

Infamous Mexican drug trafficker the "Queen of the Pacific" could soon find herself walking free, after receiving a 70-month prison…

MEXICO / 25 NOV 2016

A new law up for debate in Mexico's lower house proposes to expand and regulate the role of the military…

EL CHAPO / 17 OCT 2012

The powerful Sinaloa Cartel has reportedly infiltrated Mexico's main organized crime investigation unit, illustrating how drug…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…