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After a Southwest Houston home was discovered to have housed nearly 100 people hidden inside, federal authorities have charged those they believe are responsible for operating the stash house.

According to court documents, Marina Garcia-Diaz, 22, Henry Licona-Larios, 31, Kevin Licona-Lopez, 25, Marco Baca-Perez 30 and Marcelo Garcia-Palacios, 21 all “harbored, concealed and shielded illegal aliens for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain.” If convicted, the five face up to 10 years in prison.

On Friday (April 30), 97 people, a majority of whom were men, were found inside the home located on the  12200 block of Chessington Drive at South Kensington Drive. A woman had called police saying her brother had been kidnapped, sparking an investigation which determined the woman paid to have her brother brought into the United States, only for the individuals to hold him for ransom.

“She had paid several thousand dollars for him to be smuggled into the United States,” according to the criminal complaint filed. “However, the smugglers had allegedly demanded additional money before they would release her brother. They also threatened to kill him.”

Inside the home, dozens of people were found inside two different rooms within the two-story house. Each room had deadbolts on the doors preventing escape.

“When we got into the house we realized there were over 90 people inside. We immediately began to assess any threats and render medical care,” Houston Police Assistant Chief Daryn Edwards said. “It was very surprising.”

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