Authorities investigating a reported kidnapping Friday came upon an alleged human smugglers’ house holding more than 90 migrants, some with Covid-19 symptoms, Houston police said.
Investigators worked overnight to track down the location in southwest Houston after receiving a call about a potential kidnapping late Thursday, said Assistant Chief Daryn Edwards of the Houston Police Department.
None of the migrants was in particularly ill health, he said, but they remained inside the two-story home Friday because some showed signs of Covid-19. They will all be tested for the virus, Edwards said in a news conference.
HPD Commanders and PIO at 12200 Chessington Drive after dozens of persons found inside a residence. Incident initially reported as a kidnapping and may possibly involve human smuggling. Media briefing expected in about an hour. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/uNyKoYy00n
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) April 30, 2021
“We’ve already had some people in the house tell us they’re not able to smell, and they’re not able to taste,” Edwards said.
It wasn’t yet clear who was behind the alleged smuggling operation, and no one had been arrested, he said.
The youngest in the group appeared to be in his early 20s, he said, and many appeared to be in their 30s. About five are women, he said.
Police swarmed the house with a search warrant Friday morning as they investigated a possible kidnapping, Edwards said.
“It was a big surprise when we got in the house and saw what we saw,” he said.
Edwards said the house was mostly unfurnished, with mattresses leaning against the walls.
U.S. Homeland Security will take over the investigation, he said.