Nearly 30 people in Houston were rescued from an alleged human trafficking ring, and a suspect has been arrested in the case.
According to the Houston Police Department, officers "received a report of a male in his briefs running down the street yelling that he had been kidnapped." The nearly naked man informed authorities that "thirty more people were being held hostage in the house."
Southwest officers are at 4800 Raven Ridge. Officers received a report of a male in his briefs running down the str… https://t.co/eL0fWBfCev— Houston Police (@Houston Police)1607052963.0
Inside the home in southwest Houston, police found 28 men and one female, who appeared to be a minor, according to KHOU-TV. The victims were in their underwear, but reportedly in good condition. Officials said the victims are from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Cuba.
Mary Lewis, who lives directly behind the home where the victims were discovered, recalled the moment when a victim approached her.
"When he ran up to me he looked like he was all cut up," Lewis told KYTX-TV. "He had like cuts in his face. But he was in his red shorts, drawers. And he was barefoot."
"Then I was backing up. I said, 'What's wrong, man? I can't understand you. What are you talking about?' And then he would look back that way," Lewis said.
The U.S. attorney's officenoted that the residence had boarded-up windows and deadbolt locks on the inside doors.
After the victims were rescued, they were taken to the Ridgemont Elementary School where they were provided with food and clothes. The victims were later transported to an immigration facility.
The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are investigating the situation. The victims are cooperating with authorities, according to police.
A suspect has been arrested in the human trafficking bust. Officials named the suspect as Mauro Dominguez-Maldonado, a 36-year-old Honduran national. On Friday, federal prosecutors said the suspect was in the United States illegally, according to CNN.
The criminal complaint alleges Dominguez-Maldonado was in charge of watching over the individuals and performing multiple tasks in the alleged human smuggling operation.
Dominguez-Maldonado faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted. Dominguez-Maldonado is expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy on Monday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Bennett is prosecuting the case.
Police Commander Jonathon Halliday told reporters that three people were detained as possible suspects.