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Dozens held captive in Riverside drop house

September 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A human smuggling drop house in Riverside was raided by federal agents Tuesday, who found dozens of immigrants being held captive in horrible conditions."It had to miserable for that many people - 37 in one room. They had it boarded up so they couldn't get out," said neighbor Baylis Hurriah, who hadn't been aware before this week what had been going on inside the unassuming house.

Another neighbor, Lucy Garcia, said she had seen a number of men in the front yard and there had been what sounded like loud noises of a party on a few occasions, but other than that, nothing that aroused suspicion.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement said there were at least 37 people crammed inside the house, which was shielded from outside view by a large fence and boarded windows.

They said the people were brought into the country illegally by so-called coyotes, who then ended up kidnapping them and demanding ransom from their families back home.

"There's no honor among thieves. They will just arbitrarily jack up the fee and detain people until they get the additional fee. They will beat people, they will rape, they will threaten to kill people to their family members on the phone," said I.C.E. Special Agent Claude Arnold.

Possible suspects have been detained but no arrests have yet been made in the case.


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