Politics Five people charged after authorities find 97 migrants in Houston home
Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of Biden's harshest critics on the migrant surge, is urging White House to listen to border towns
Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar has become an outspoken, critical voice on immigration as Biden grapples with migrants coming to the border.The 65-year-old congressman, donning a tan button-down shirt and matching pants, lamented about the issues he’s seen in his community as an increased number of migrant children, families and adults make their way to the U.S.-Mexico border. American teenagers are being recruited by cartels to help smuggle people into the United States, ranch property is being destroyed, and now migrants are replacing drugs as the newest and most valuable commodity to smuggle into the country, he said.
Five people have been arrested and charged with federal crimes in connection to a stash house in Houston where more than 90 migrants were found on Friday.
According to the , a criminal complaint alleges that the five illegally harbored, concealed and shielded immigrants in the country for private financial gain.
The five individuals are Marina García-Díaz, 22; Henry Licona-Larios, 31; Kevin Licona-López, 25, Santa Barbara; Marco Baca-Pérez 30; and Marcelo García-Palacios, 21. They hail from Central American countries and Mexico.
Inside a smuggling operation moving migrants across the US-Mexico border
The smugglers are brothers and run the business out of their family home, smuggling people into the US with the help of one brother's 14 year-old son. Makeshift ladders laid out in the backyard were the only real giveaway of the family business. "It's super light," said the 14-year-old, picking up one of the ladders. He works with his father and uncle moving somewhere between 10 to 35 migrants per week on average, he says. Lately, that number has been on the high side. "Dozens are crossing everyday around here, it's very high," said one brother.
If convicted, they each face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The investigation was started after a woman contacted authorities on Friday saying her brother had been kidnapped, the Chronicle reports. The caller reportedly told authorities she had paid smugglers $11,000 in February to bring her brother into the U.S. from Honduras. She was then instructed by the smugglers to bring an additional $6,300 to Houston in exchange for her brother's release or he would be killed.
The woman recorded the phone call and gave the recording and smuggler's phone number to authorities, who obtained an emergency geolocation order and tracked down the location of the smugglers.
When authorities located the house in southwest Houston, they reportedly found 97 migrants packed into rooms, wearing only their underwear. They had been forced to give the rest of their possessions to the smugglers.
"This is so difficult for me," the caller's brother told the Chronicle. "I have always wanted to help my family and my mother because she lives in a little house that is falling apart. We are very poor."
Several of those being held captive have allegedly said the five arrested were in charge of conducting the smuggling operation.
Texas rancher's interview disrupted by federal agents chasing migrants .
John Sewell was speaking remotely to Fox News about the border crisis, saying he had already caught three migrants at his ranch that day before breakfast. Dana Perino was attempting to read a statement issued by Sen. Mark Kelly about President Joe Biden's speech on Wednesday but dogs were heard loudly barking in the background. © Provided by Daily Mail ( Sewell said: 'Dana, I'm sorry, I had a group of guys coming through looking for some immigrants, you're going to have to put it back at me again … we're not getting the support as the US. 'This is not panning out good for us. We're under siege here.