Undocumented immigrants who make it across the border are finding refuge south of San Antonio in Laredo.
Officials there are seeing an uptick in dozens of illegal immigrants packing what they call “stash houses.”
These houses can become one of the most dangerous points in the journey for an undocumented immigrant.
The Laredo sector’s chief Border Patrol agent, Jason Owens, said that these homes become “warehouses for smugglers.” Oftentimes referred to as “casas seguras,”or safe houses, they turn out to be quite the opposite.
“We’ve had instances where many of the aliens have been extorted, held against their will,” Owens said. “People have been shot, bound, blindfolded, we’ve even had sexual assaults.”
Lately, he says that his agents have been finding more and more people packed into one single home, making for deplorable conditions.
“When they get to these stash houses, they find no running water and no food,” Owens explained. “You see people having to use the bathroom in a corner, no furniture, many times they are sleeping on the hard floor.”
This year, the trend is alarming. Agents have apprehended about 700 undocumented immigrants in these homes. Compare that to this time last year, when 275 aliens were detained.
Chief Owens said that the increase in the number of people in each home could be due to more people entering through the Laredo sector and smugglers increasing their numbers in order to lower their risk and up their reward.
Both U.S Border Patrol and Laredo police coordinate in the apprehension of the undocumented immigrants.