Authorities raid house full of undocumented immigrants
Sheriff deputies took in at least 10 undocumented immigrants after a woman who escaped the home alerted authorities.
ABC13 Eyewitness News | July 30, 2005
By Gene Apodaca
Authorities raided what's being called a safe house for undocumented immigrants in northeast Harris County.
Ten people are in custody as a result of that raid and one of those immigrants tells a story of captivity and torture.
Around 1pm Saturday afternoon on William Tell near Aldine Westfield, a woman ran to a neighbor's house and called police, claiming that she was held hostage by a group of coyotes. It was then that the sheriff's department moved in. Armed with guns and rifles, more than a dozen officers converged towards the house. Nearby residents watched as the operation went down.
"They were telling them to come out. They were telling them to come out with their hands up and everything," said neighbor Erik Mendez.
Within minutes, authorities took 10 people into custody, including the woman who first alerted police.
"We were advised that she had been held hostage at this location by some illegal alien smugglers and that there were additional victims inside the residence," said Lt. James Johnson Harris County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities say the woman likely escaped her captors by jumping over a fence. She told authorities that she had been raped by the coyotes.
In the meantime, one of the immigrants detailed how he was held captive for 20 days. Adon Mendez tells Eyewitness News that he was held for eight days without eating.
Authorities aren't sure how many suspected coyotes were behind the operation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are in the process of interviewing those taken from the home.
Neighbors say they have always suspected something strange going on at the house.
"I know that there has been activity around that house 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said resident Darrell Beard.
Officials say the coyotes smuggled the immigrants here to this country and promised them jobs and then held them for ransom. Authorities aren't sure how many coyotes they have in custody.
As for the woman who claimed she was raped, was taken to Northeast Houston Medical Hospital for evaluation.