Houston Police received advice on a possible kidnapping case Thursday night, but what they ultimately found shocked them.
After working through the night to check the tip, police raided a two-story house on Chessington Drive on Friday, a quiet suburban southwest street with manicured lawns and American flags hanging from houses beige.
Inside, they found 91 people crammed into every inch of wooden floor, Daryn Edwards, deputy head of the Houston Police Department’s Homeland Security Command, said at a press briefing Friday.
“It was a big surprise when we walked into the house and saw what we saw,” he said. “When [police] walked into the house, they realized it was actually going to turn into a human trafficking investigation.
Only five of the people inside were women, and there were no children, he said. No one was tied up or in bad shape, but they said they hadn’t eaten in a while. Several had symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and loss of smell and taste.
“They’re basically in there, in their basic clothes, and all huddled together,” Edwards said. “This is what we saw on entering.”
Police believe the kidnapping advice came from a family member who feared a relative had locked himself in the house. Neighbors told investigators they didn’t notice anything unusual.
Houston is approximately 300 miles from the nearest border post. Edwards said their early surveys suggested the men entered the country for work. “This is definitely more smuggling and not trafficking,” he said.
The owner of the house told local media that he rented the house from a man.
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