Socorro police find sex trafficking signs during migrant stash house raid

Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times
Thu, April 13, 2023 at 7:34 PM EDT

Socorro police said they discovered possible signs of sex trafficking after finding a group of migrants during a raid of a suspected stash house.

"More than" seven undocumented migrants were found when police carried out the the raid Wednesday afternoon after receiving information about drugs at a house in the 11600 block of Flor Celosia Drive, a police news release stated.

"Preliminary information suggests that a large number of unaccompanied and younger aged females located have been the target of sex trafficking and were treated by emergency medical services on the scene," the news release stated.

The exact number of undocumented migrants was not available as police were working with U.S. Border Patrol on jurisdictional matters following the raid, a Socorro city spokesman said Thursday.

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The ages, genders and countries of origin of the undocumented migrants were not immediately disclosed.

The news release headline described the case as a "sex trafficking ring," though no further details were provided. Socorro police said that the case is under investigation.

Socorro stash house raid

A video made by the city of Socorro showed a large, gray armored police vehicle in the driveway of a home in front of an open garage door as other police cars with flashing lights and an ambulance lined a small residential street in a neighborhood of new houses.

The raid was conducted by the Socorro Emergency Response Team, or ERT, a regional law enforcement team that carries out tactical operations. No injuries were reported in the raid.

Socorro Police Chief David Burton speaks after a police raid of a migrant stash house on Flor Celosia Drive on Wednesday. He is shown in a still of a video made by the city of Socorro.

"We had some information some human smuggling was taking place," Socorro police Chief David Burton said in a city video interview.

Burton explained that information from residents is vital in fighting stash houses and other border smuggling activity in the small town along the Rio Grande on the southeastern edge of El Paso.

"This is a very good example of community outreach," Burton said. "We are here to help people. We are here to rescue those who might otherwise might not have a voice.”

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The U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI all referred questions to the Socorro Police Department.

Stash houses, which can be houses, apartments and motel rooms, where smugglers hide undocumented migrants before transporting them to locations across the nation are common in the El Paso Borderland.

The U.S. Border Patrol reports that its has discovered more than 130 stash houses holding more than 1,800 migrants in the El Paso region since the start of fiscal year 2023 in October.

Anyone with information on the Flor Celosia Drive stash house or other criminal activity in Socorro may call the Socorro Police Department at 915-858-9237.

Socorro police raid a suspected migrant trafficking stash house on Flor Celosia Drive on Wednesday.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Socorro migrant stash house raid leads police to sex trafficking signs