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Couple Accused of Harboring Illegal Immigrants

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Posted: Jul 15, 2014 7:15 PM

Updated: Jul 15, 2014 7:16 PM

McALLEN - A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a husband and wife be held without bond for their alleged roles in the kidnapping of three illegal immigrants.

Authorities say the alleged human smugglers held three people from Honduras in a house in Penitas. They are accused of calling the immigrants' families to demand thousands of dollars for their release.

The suspects allegedly told one family in Virginia that they would sell their daughter to a brothel if they didn't pay.

That family called police. Investigators used the suspects' phone to track down the stash house.

Hidalgo County Precinct 4 deputy constables were among the first on the scene.

Interim Constable Atanacio Gaitan said it's always difficult to open the door to a stash house.

"The minute you barge in, you open that door, they open that door, you get your consent to go in there, you could see immediately these are no conditions for humans," Gaitan said.

Gaitan said his deputies make it a point to check on the women stashed at the house first.

"Once we come across women inside the stash house, we just try to make it a point to direct our attention to them first. They are women and these men are out there ... holding them for ransom or other means. ... (They) might take advantage of women," Gaitan said.

An investigator said in court Tuesday that another woman was being held at the house, but she escaped before authorities arrived.

The husband and wife face charges for allegedly with harboring illegal aliens. The crime carries a 10-year maximum sentence in federal prison.

Topics: couple, arrest, charge, illegal, immigration, kidnapping, rio grande valley, south texas, crisis on the border, central america, immigration crisis

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