Maryland man identified as leader behind human smuggling operation in SW Houston
HOUSTON - Homeland Security Investigations and the Houston Police Department arrested a 50-year-old Maryland man and rescued six individuals from a residence in Harris Co. on Dec. 7.
Jorge Antonio Coello Chavez a resident of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was taken into custody by Houston Police and is being prosecuted in Harris County for operating a stash house and human smuggling.
SIGN UP FOR FOX 26 HOUSTON EMAIL ALERTS
This is the second suspected human smuggling stash house discovered in Southwest Houston in the past four days.
Authorities say five adult males from Ecuador and one adult male from Guatemala who were being held at the stash house were taken into custody as potential witnesses and to be processed for immigration violations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) at the Montgomery Processing Center in Conroe, Texas.
RELATED: 30 people in their underwear found inside southwest Houston home in human smuggling operation
“Houston is one of the nation’s primary hubs for stash houses and the heart of the distribution network for transporting smuggled aliens to the rest of the country,” said Mary Magness, assistant special agent in charge, HSI Houston.
“It’s close proximity to the border, diverse demographic makeup, and nearby access to major interstate highways make Houston an ideal staging ground.”
FOR THE LATEST NEWS UPDATES, DOWNLOAD THE FOX 26 NEWS APP
An investigation regarding the incident remains ongoing.
Members of the public who have information about suspected human smuggling or human trafficking activities are urged to contact HSI by calling the HSI Tip Line at 1 (866) 347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199.