Dozens of illegal immigrants trafficked into the U.S. were discovered in a rich neighborhood in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, authorities said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found 73 migrants living in stash houses operated by human smugglers in the Northwest area of D.C., NBC News reported.
Documents from ICE reportedly detailed how the agency's Homeland Security Investigations team raided six residential homes in the upscale D.C. neighborhood, where agents found 60 adults and 13 children, as well as $95,000 and a small amount of cocaine.
The stash houses were found in one of the richest areas of D.C., where the median home price is $750,000, NBC reported. The documents reviewed by the outlet did not disclose the addresses of these houses or how many migrants were being held in a single house.
Violent drug cartels based south of the U.S.-Mexico border make billions of dollars each year smuggling people into the United States. Migrants will often pay for the services of a "coyote" to cross the border illegally — earning the cartels an estimated $13 billion annually, according to the New York Times.
After reaching the U.S., migrants are often kept in "stash houses," often in cramped conditions with limited access to running water or air conditioning. They are told they cannot leave without the permission of the smugglers. Typically, these stash houses are found in border states, it was unclear why so many migrants were being held in D.C., NBC News reported.
Washington, D.C., is a sanctuary city. In recent weeks, Mayor Muriel Bowser has complained of a "humanitarian crisis" after about 4,000 illegal immigrants were bused to the nation's capital from border states like Texas. She has called for the activation of the National Guard to assist with processing the illegal immigrants.
Human smuggling operations can turn deadly. Last month, 53 migrants suffocated to death in the back of an overheated tractor-trailer that was abandoned by smugglers on the side of a highway in San Antonio. The horrific incident was the deadliest immigrant-incident in the country to date.
Federal authorities have reported record-high levels of illegal immigration since President Joe Biden assumed office. In March, an astounding 209,000 migrants were apprehended after crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S., the highest number of border arrests in more than two decades.
In June, nearly 192,000 migrants were apprehended after crossing the border illegally, according to Breitbart Texas.
The Biden administration has repeatedly warned migrants not to come to the U.S., emphasizing that they will be deported if they do not have a legal asylum claim. But that has not deterred hundreds of thousands of migrants from coming each month, overwhelming and exhausting Border Patrol agents. More than 1.6 million migrants were encountered by border agents in Fiscal Year 2022, which began on Oct. 1, 2021.
Republican lawmakers have called the state of the border a "crisis" and fingered blame at Biden for reversing former President Donald Trump's restrictive immigration policies. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who represents the area north of San Antonio, decried the "scourge of moving human beings for profit" in a speech at the America First Policy Institute's policy conference last week.
“The cartels are getting paid thousands of dollars to put these little girls and little boys into the sex trafficking trade — to be put in stash houses in Houston, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, all along the border,” Roy said Tuesday.