Thursday, October 12, 2006

More than 50 illegal immigrants found in Texas home

Walker Robinson:

More than fifty immigrants were taken into custody Wednesday after a raid at a west side home. Police were called to the home on Senisa Street after they received a tip about stolen cars. When they arrived, they saw four people running from the house. They looked inside the "stash house" and found 51 illegal immigrants - 38 men, 12 women and a teenage girl – all crammed into three bedrooms.

“This is a case where we obviously just can't walk away,” Sgt. Gabe Trevino with San Antonio Police said. “We called the federal government to come out here and do their job.”

Trevino said two men escaped while police confirmed that two cars in the back of the house were stolen. All of the illegal immigrants were taken in for questioning by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

“We have a diverse group,” Fred Hollenbeck with ICE said. “Some from other than Mexico, but the majority are from Mexico.

Hollenbeck said most of the migrants had been held in the house from two to eight days. Many were hungry and thirsty and hadn't bathed in days. None of them requested medical attention and none showed signs of physical abuse.

ICE officials said the immigrants might be part of a larger operation.

“It appears it a stash house, and people were just being staged here to move elsewhere,” Hollenbeck said.

The immigrants appeared to be in good health, authorities said.

"It's highly unusual for us to get a stash house this large in the San Antonio area," said Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The city is typically a pit stop for immigrants going elsewhere, she said.

The illegal immigrants face civil charges of being in the country illegally and deportation. One unidentified man in custody could be charged with smuggling.

ICE agents were working to find the homeowner Wednesday. Bexar County documents list the owner of the house as Alejandra Cortes of Los Angeles. She couldn't be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Neighbors said they were shocked by the number of people inside the house.

"It hasn't hit me yet, but my wife is taking it really hard," said William Ruiz, a next-door neighbor. "It's hard to imagine humans being treated that way, kept without food or water."

50 Illegal Immigrants Found By Police In San Antonio Duplex

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