HOUSTON (AP) — An Honduran man was charged on Friday with harboring more than two dozen people who authorities say were being held in a Houston home as part of a human smuggling operation, according to a federal prosecutor.
The smuggling operation was discovered Thursday evening after one of the men who was being kept inside the home escaped and was seen running down a residential street in his underwear, yelling that he had been kidnapped, Houston police said.
Southwest officers are at 4800 Raven Ridge. Officers received a report of a male in his briefs running down the street yelling that he had been kidnapped. The male advised that thirty more people were being held hostage in the house. Officers made entry and rescued approximately pic.twitter.com/kRWS89zuUy— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) December 4, 2020
Authorities determined that 28 men and one woman who had illegally immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba were being kept in the home, according to U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. The immigrants were only wearing undergarments when they were found.
The home had boarded-up windows and deadbolt locks on the inside doors.
After their discovery, the immigrants were taken to a school gymnasium to get out of the cold, police said.
At the home, authorities also found 36-year-old Mauro Dominguez-Maldonado, who prosecutors allege was in charge of watching the immigrants and performing other duties as part of the smuggling operation.
Dominguez-Maldonado, who authorities say was living illegally in Houston, was arrested and later charged with harboring. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.
Dominguez-Maldonado was set to appear before a magistrate judge on Monday. Court records did not list an attorney for him.
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