Living Conditions for Immigrants Hidden in Edinburg Apartment

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EDINBURG – An immigration raid in Edinburg lands 19 people suspected of coming into the U.S. illegally in federal custody.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS discovered more about the place where authorities tracked them down.

Stash houses are not limited to houses. They're sometimes apartments, mobile homes, motels, even primitive campsites.

Whichever form they come in, Border Patrol warns there are dangers for those inside and those nearby.

No furniture was found inside apartment number 15. The two-bedroom unit was rented out by the supervisor Donna Tamez.

She said, "We just rented it to a couple, that's all we know."

After the raid, few signs of life were left. The refrigerator was empty. The only food was a box of eggs left on a counter near a single-burner.

It's an indication of what the 19 people might have had to eat. It's more than what Border Patrol Agent Robert Rodriguez says they normally find.

He said, "Normally the conditions are deplorable. The illegal immigrants are crammed into small spaces. There's inadequate facilities for hygiene. A lot of times there's no running water. A lot of times, they're not given food or water. If any at all, it's very limited."

Belts, socks, a blanket, a cologne bottle, even drug paraphernalia was left behind, they’re all signs that people lived massed together with little to no privacy. It can breed violence.

"The smugglers and caretakers are known to take advantage of the illegal immigrants both sexually and physically. They're known to extort them for additional monies after they've paid substantial amounts of money, as well," explained Rodriguez.

At this apartment, children mingle with people passing by. They played just feet away from where a group of strangers were hiding.

Rodriguez explained, "They mix in women and children with criminals at times. We've discovered criminals inside these stash houses. Anything from gang members, sex offenders, murderers, individuals who were wanted for different types of crimes."

Tamez says she didn't know of the group staying here. She didn't realize the possible danger. She said it concerned her.

"Yes, because normally they are always outside. I don't know. I could be scared because they could do something to them or something like that,” said Tamez.

Rodriguez said stash house caretakers are sometimes armed. Reporting it can spare a life. To report this type of activity you can call 9-1-1 or crime stoppers to remain anonymous.


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