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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Border Patrol Reports More Stash Houses in the Valley

    Border Patrol Reports More Stash Houses in the Valley

    Posted: Jun 3, 2013 9:48 PM

    WESLACO - Border Patrol officials said more stash houses are being discovered in the Rio Grande Valley.

    Border Patrol agents on Monday arrested more than 30 illegal immigrants at a stash house north of Edinburg.

    The house walls were covered with graffiti. Authorities said the symbols may be tied to criminal organization.

    "A lot of the indicators on the wall are tied to transnational criminal organizations. There's markings and other information up there. You may have one group that may have left a message behind for the next group. The information may be written on the wall," Border Patrol Spokesman Henry Mendiola said.

    Mendiola said 27 of the 34 immigrants are from countries other then Mexico. Several women were among the immigrants.

    "There's very, very little privacy. They may have a door in the bathroom, but that's all you're going to get. The rest is done in the front of everybody else," Mendiola said.

    Agents said the house appeared to have been used to hide immigrants for some time.

    An hour after the raid, agents rushed to a field to look for a group of illegal immigrants. They said the immigrants were hiding along the road. They fled into the field when they saw the agents.

    Agents arrested 40 immigrants at the site.

    "These people ran about a half mile in this heat, and they're not prepared for that. They haven't had decent food or water and they're not prepared to take on these elements," Mendiola said.

  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Increase seen in human stash houses

    Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013 5:05 am
    Ildefonso Ortiz | The Monitor

    Delcia Lopez
    Heavy equipment is used Tuesday, June 4, 2013, to tear down a home that was being used as a human stash house north of Hargill.

    A small, dirt-filled plastic pony lay yards away from a wooden home in a remote area north of Hargill.

    Inside, spider webs and cobwebs marked the walls. Trash littered the floors. The deplorable conditions of the home offered a glimpse of the hardship that 44 immigrants who had entered the country illegally endured as they were kept in the house, waiting to be transported north.

    Upon learning that his unused property, in fact, was being used as a stash house for human smugglers, the property owner worked with Border Patrol to have the house torn down this week.

    While in previous years, 44 people in a human stash house seemed like a large number, recent months have seen regular illegal immigration raids on houses with 40, 50, 60 or even 100 people.

    Stash houses are a big concern for law enforcement because the immigrant clients of human smugglers are treated like cargo and subjected to inhumane conditions and abuse, said Rosendo Hinojosa, chief of Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector.

    While in a stash house, the immigrants are cramped into a small house, given little water and food, Hinojosa said. Inside, they are held for ransom by human smugglers who use them as bargaining chips when trying to extort more money from their family members, Hinojosa said.

    “In the past, they used to fear the men in green,” Hinojosa said, referencing the color of his agency’s uniforms. “Now we have seen cases where the immigrants are glad to see us because they know we will provide them with humane treatment.”


    Border Patrol statistics show the Valley has seen an increase in illegal immigration apprehensions while other sectors show a decrease, pointing to an apparent shift in routes taken by human smugglers.

    So far this year in the RGV Sector, Border Patrol has registered 4,000 such apprehensions from human stash houses and arrested 250 human smugglers.

    Overall, the agency has had 90,000 apprehensions so far this year when for 2012, the RGV Sector had close to 100,000 for the entire year.

    Another disturbing trend is the rise of sexual assaults of female immigrants who enter the country illegally. In 2012, Border Patrol reported 11 sexual assault cases, but this year, the agency already has recorded 18.

    Some of the recent stash house raids include:

    >> On April 30, Border Patrol and Edinburg police raided an apartment complex in the 3800 block of Curve Street and found 97 immigrants in the country illegally hiding in five apartments, court records show.

    >> On May 13, authorities found 21 immigrants who were in the country illegally at a stash house in the 2100 block of Gumwood Avenue, and later that day found 62 others in the 2300 block of Mesa Drive in Donna, records show.

    >> On May 14, Border Patrol and San Juan police found 60 immigrants who were in the country illegally at the 1200 block of Sioux Road in San Juan, where a woman from Peru was sexually assaulted by the caretakers, police records show.

    >> On May 22, Border Patrol made 66 illegal immigration apprehensions north of Edinburg at an unmarked house on Fresno Drive, records show.

    >> On May 28, San Juan police and Border Patrol raided a stash house in the 1600 block of Coconut Palm in San Juan where they found 101 immigrants who were in the country illegally and three caretakers for a total of 104 apprehensions, court records show.

    >> On May 30, San Juan police and Border Patrol raided a stash house in the 200 block of West Jaime where they found 48 immigrants who were in the country illegally.


    Stash houses have become a common sight in residential areas as human smugglers shift tactics to preserve their human loads, said San Juan police Chief Juan Gonzalez.

    “This is a business and these individuals are smart in their operations,” Gonzalez said. “First we had stash houses in rural areas, once we caught up to that, they moved into hotel rooms and now they are using residential areas, hoping to blend in with the public.”

    To address the increase in stash houses, San Juan created a stash house unit that works closely with a team from Border Patrol.

    “We are not here to enforce immigration laws,” Gonzalez said. “We are working to move the criminal element and their stash houses out of the city.”

    Human smuggling operations have individuals known as recruiters who scour the city looking for rental or vacant homes that they can use as stash houses.

    “Some of these recruiters will use children to pretend to be a family looking for a home,” Gonzalez said.

    While some may think that human smugglers are helping people of limited means reach the American dream, in reality they are out to make quick money from helpless people, Gonzalez said.

    “Typically they charge $2,000 to $3,000 per person, if they are from Central or South America you are looking at anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000. If they are from Asia or Africa the price is much higher,” Gonzalez said. “We recently had a house with more than 100 people. Say each person had only paid $1,000. That house was worth $100,000 to those criminals.”
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