Five people have been charged after 97 migrants were found in a house in Houston on Friday, according to authorities, federal prosecutors said on Monday.
All five accused in a criminal complaint on Saturday are living illegally in the county, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern Texas County said. They are from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.
On Friday, Houston police investigated a report of a possible abduction and found 97 people, none of whom were allowed to be in the United States, in the two-story home, officials said.
They were in two rooms and had door handles to prevent them from escaping, federal prosecutors said.
Marina Garcia-Diaz, 22; Henry Lycona-Larios, 31; Kevin Lycona-Lopez, 25; Marco Baca-Perez, 30; and Marcelo Garcia-Palacios, 21, face a census of migrant shelters in the United States, according to online court records. They are all in custody.
The home in which they were held is described in court documents as a “hiding place”.
A man who called police in Houston and reported a kidnapping on Friday said he paid $ 11,000 to have a relative brought to the United States from Honduras, but was then told to pay thousands more to be released relative, according to a criminal complaint.
The man was told that if he did not pay, the relative would be killed, according to the complaint, and the person called the Houston police.
At least one person in the home has been told that if no money is paid, he will be outside in “four pieces of wood”, which means a coffin, according to court documents.
Lawyers listed as representing the accused either did not immediately return requests for comment Monday night or declined to comment.