Five people charged after authorities find 97 migrants in Houston home

Five people charged after authorities find 97 migrants in Houston home
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Five people have been arrested and charged with federal crimes in connection to a stash house in Houston where more than 90 migrants were found on Friday.

According to the Houston Chronicle, a criminal complaint alleges that the five illegally harbored, concealed and shielded immigrants in the country for private financial gain.

The five individuals are Marina García-Díaz, 22; Henry Licona-Larios, 31; Kevin Licona-López, 25; Marco Baca-Pérez 30; and Marcelo García-Palacios, 21. They hail from Central American countries and Mexico.


If convicted, they each face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The investigation was started after a woman contacted authorities on Friday saying her brother had been kidnapped, the Chronicle reports. The caller reportedly told authorities she had paid smugglers $11,000 in February to bring her brother into the U.S. from Honduras. She was then instructed by the smugglers to bring an additional $6,300 to Houston in exchange for her brother’s release or he would be killed.

The woman recorded the phone call and gave the recording and smuggler's phone number to authorities, who obtained an emergency geolocation order and tracked down the location of the smugglers.

When authorities located the house in southwest Houston, they reportedly found 97 migrants packed into rooms, wearing only their underwear. They had been forced to give the rest of their possessions to the smugglers.

“This is so difficult for me,” the caller’s brother told the Chronicle. “I have always wanted to help my family and my mother because she lives in a little house that is falling apart. We are very poor.”

Several of those being held captive have allegedly said the five arrested were in charge of conducting the smuggling operation.