August 2, 2008

Immigration smuggling ring busted in east Harris County

07:17 PM CDT on Saturday, August 2, 2008

Kevin Peters / 11 News

HOUSTON -- Federal agents rounded up nearly a dozen immigrants Saturday morning. They were all discovered inside a suspected stash house in east Harris County.


August 2, 2008
Deputies stumbled onto the home after responding to a call that shots had been fired in the neighborhood. When they arrived to investigate further, the situation escalated.

"We had three suspects jump out the window and start running. They were running different directions," said Sergeant Mauro Alvarado.

Deputies caught all three, and after taking a look inside the home, they were able to take a few more into custody.

"We discovered approximately 11 Central Americans that are possibly illegal and being held against their will in a back room," said Alvarado.

The immigrants told police they arrived at the home on Friday night. Now they will spend their next several nights in ICE custody.

"We didn't know what was going on. We thought it might have been a drug raid or something like that," said James Steagall, who lives in the neighborhood.

There were no drugs involved, but police did arrest four people suspected of running the stash house, including a 15-year-old boy who tipped of deputies when he fired his handgun on the street Saturday morning.

The stash house in east Harris County is the second bust this week. On Friday, immigration agents arrested a couple in southeast Houston for holding immigrants against their will.

Neighbors say agents raided the house on the 8500 block of Baker Street. Authorities think the couple was holding as many as seven people including children.

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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?