The US Department of Homeland Security is investigating the discovery of more than 90 people in a house in southwest Houston in what police call a human trafficking operation.
Deputy Police Chief Daryn Edwards said police received a kidnapping call Thursday evening and the homicide division had been working through the night to enter the house with a tactical team.
“When they entered the house they realized it was actually going to turn into a human trafficking investigation,” Edwards said at a press conference on Friday, adding: “It was a great surprise when we entered the house and saw what we saw. “
Officers found dozens of people “huddled together” in the two-story house. Five of the people were women and the rest were men, Edwards said. There were no children inside and the youngest person is around 20, he said.
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Edwards said there “didn’t appear to be any serious injuries involved.” Officers gave people food and water because they “said they hadn’t eaten for a while,” he said.
Edwards said officers were “concerned” that there might be cases of COVID-19 in the group and that the health department was on their way to do rapid tests. Some people weren’t able to smell or taste, and some had a fever, he said.
“We haven’t heard from any of the neighbors about anything that might lead them to believe that something like this is happening. It’s very surprising,” he said. declared.
Edwards called the incident “disturbing” and “obviously not something we see often”. He said Homeland Security Investigations, the main investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, was reviewing him.
“It’s definitely more of a smuggling business and not a trafficking business,” Edwards said.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Services, trafficking
exploiting people for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation, while human trafficking involves the provision of a service – usually transportation or fraudulent documents – to a person who willfully seeks illegal entry in a foreign country.