More Than 100 People Found Crammed Into Houston House - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

More Than 100 People Found Crammed Into Houston House

Posted: Updated:

HOUSTON (AP) — A house overflowing with more than 100 people presumed to be in the U.S. illegally was uncovered just outside Houston on Wednesday, a police spokesman said.

The suspected stash house was found during a search for a 24-year-old woman and her two children, a 7-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, that were reported missing by relatives late Tuesday after a man failed to meet them as planned at an undisclosed location on the city's north side, said John Cannon, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department. Many of the people in home that authorities said appeared to be part of a human smuggling operation were dressed only in undergarments and they were sitting in in filthy conditions and surrounded by trash bags full of old clothing, Cannon said.

When police opened the door to the home they found "a large, large group of people, some sitting on top of one another, very confined spaces," Cannon said. "They yell out the woman's name to see if she is in there, and she emerges with the two children. They're OK."

The single-family home, in southern Harris County, is about 1,500-square-feet, Cannon said. At first, officers saw only a mattress on the floor and a refrigerator in an exterior room. It was when they went further into the house that they found the people — 94 men, all in their undergarments and shoeless, 15 women and the woman with her two children — lying in filth in several small rooms, all with access to one bathroom and no hot water.

Many of the women said they had been in the house for three or four days, Cannon said. One woman said she had been there for 15 days. All of them said they were hungry, thirsty and tired.

"It was just filth, very squalid-like conditions inside. Trash bags with clothing piled as high as you can see," Cannon said. "They were very surprised at the numbers of people inside. Some were just sitting on top of one another because there was just no room."

Authorities said five men have been arrested.

Houston police have handed the investigation over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE spokesman Greg Palmore said it has been five years since officials uncovered a house in the Houston area with this many people inside. In 2012, a house with 86 people was discovered, he said.

ICE took the people in the home into custody and they will be questioned and fed, Palmore said. The people were primarily from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador, he said. Two of the people, a pregnant woman and a man, have been taken to a hospital for unknown treatment, he added. Although Palmore said it was too early to say whether this was part of a human trafficking operation, he said it appeared that way.

Houston sits about seven hours from the Mexican border, making it a popular route for immigrants, Palmore explained.

"Houston is significant for the highway corridors that make up Houston, I-45 and I-10. With those two traffic corridors you can pan out anywhere in the United States," Palmore said. "And it's very easy to assimilate into the communities here."

The home was found after Houston police were tipped off that the woman and children they were looking for may have been taken there. Cannon said police set up surveillance points outside the house early Wednesday and pulled over a car with two men inside for a routine traffic stop when they saw them leaving the driveway. Handguns and documents that suggested illegal activity were found in the car, leading police to detain the two men and enter the house, he said.

After the people were removed and a count began, three men attempted to flee on foot, Cannon said. Those men have also been detained and are suspected of illegal activity as well. In addition, police found two coops with hundreds of chickens on the property that are part of an investigation into illegal cock-fighting, he said.

Police have not identified the suspects.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Prosecutor: No criminal liability in officer involved shooting

    Prosecutor: No criminal liability in officer involved shooting

    Friday, August 1 2014 1:02 PM EDT2014-08-01 17:02:00 GMT
    UPDATE:The Spokane County Prosecutors Office has reviewed the case of the Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) incident on February 11, 2014 involving Spokane County deputies and Jed Zillmer. The incident occurred in the intersection of Indiana and Sullivan in Spokane Valley.
    >>
    UPDATE:The Spokane County Prosecutors Office has reviewed the case of the Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) incident on February 11, 2014 involving Spokane County deputies and Jed Zillmer. The incident occurred in the intersection of Indiana and Sullivan in Spokane Valley.
    >>
  • Otter attacks swimmers in Washington river

    Otter attacks swimmers in Washington river

    Friday, August 1 2014 11:53 AM EDT2014-08-01 15:53:58 GMT
    MACHIAS, Wash. (AP) - A river otter attacked an 8-year-old boy and his grandmother as they were swimming in the Pilchuck River at a park in the Snohomish County town of Machias. The boy's mother, Tabitha Moser, told KING that she saw the 4-foot otter attack her son Thursday morning at Lake Connor Park. She says her mother saved him.>>
    MACHIAS, Wash. (AP) - A river otter attacked an 8-year-old boy and his grandmother as they were swimming in the Pilchuck River at a park in the Snohomish County town of Machias. The boy's mother, Tabitha Moser, told KING that she saw the 4-foot otter attack her son Thursday morning at Lake Connor Park. She says her mother saved him.
    >>
  • FIRST ON KHQ.COM: hikers find body in Spokane Valley; homicide investigation begins

    FIRST ON KHQ.COM: hikers find body in Spokane Valley; homicide investigation begins

    Friday, August 1 2014 1:50 PM EDT2014-08-01 17:50:42 GMT
    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.- On Thursday night major crimes detectives with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office began investigating the discovery of a body in Spokane Valley.The body was found earlier in the evening by a couple walking in a wooded area near Parkside At Mirabeau Apartments.>>
    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.- On Thursday night major crimes detectives with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office began investigating the discovery of a body in Spokane Valley.The body was found earlier in the evening by a couple walking in a wooded area near Parkside At Mirabeau Apartments.>>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:36 AM EDT2014-07-27 14:36:04 GMT
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
  • Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:55 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:55:02 GMT
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
  • 3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:19 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:19:11 GMT
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>