Immigration authorities are investigating whether 20 people found in a southwest Houston motel room today were being held against their will by smugglers demanding money.
The U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement took 22 people into custody at the Post Oak Inn in the 14700 block of Post Oak. Two of those arrested are suspected smugglers, and the other 20 are illegal immigrants from Central America, ICE spokeswoman Luisa Deason said.
The immigrants were found just before 11 a.m. when one of the room's occupants escaped and told a nearby businessman to call police.
Houston Police responded and found 20 illegal aliens and two suspected smugglers, known as coyotes. The illegals said they came from Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico and that they had checked into the motel on Tuesday. Immigration officials took custody of the illegals and, according to Deason, plan to treat the incident as a smuggling case.
Interestingly, none of the illegals crammed into the motel room were bound nor did any claim to be hostages. According to HPD Sgt. David Hallene, not counting the coyotes and the guy who originally escaped from the motel, the illegals comprised 16 men, one woman, and three teens. It's not known what will happen to them, but I suspect they'll probably soon be on the streets of Houston. And, frankly, it's understandable. There just are not enough officers, facilities, money, and other resources necessary to handle the absolute avalanche of people crossing the border.