Five people were arrested on suspicion of running the smuggling
ring, while almost all of the group of 93 males and 15 females were
also taken into custody on suspicion of entering the country
Many of the people came from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El
Salvador. There were also five children in the group, one as young
as 5 years old, official said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore said
this was one of the largest groups of people suspected of entering
the country illegally discovered in a raid in several years in the
border state of Texas.
"It's safe to assume it's an alleged smuggling investigation, but
the extent hasn't been ascertained," Palmore said.
The group was being held in a 2,200 square-foot (204 square-meter)
building with one bathroom, surrounded by land where pigs, geese and
chickens were being kept, Palmore said.
Houston police found the group on the compound in south Houston
while investigating a complaint of someone being held hostage,
police spokesman John Cannon said.
The building's windows were covered with plywood, and the doors had
locks on them that could only be opened from outside, Cannon said.
[to top of second column]
Many people were being held in trash-filled rooms that were so
cramped, it looked like "a sea of people," Cannon said.
Several hundred chickens were also found on the premises, which
police believed were used in illegal cockfighting. The chickens were
turned over to the Houston SPCA, he said.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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