Five accused of holding migrants hostage for ransom
ALAMO — An early morning international call police received here led to the arrest of five people Tuesday who allegedly held two undocumented immigrants against their will in what authorities are calling a migrant stash house.
The call from El Salvador came in at approximately 2 a.m., according to Alamo Police Officer Juan Meza, alerting police of an extortion attempt involving a family member being held hostage until he paid his smuggling flee after crossing the border illegally.
Police subsequently discovered a Salvadoran and Honduran migrant in a house in the 700 block of Fannin Avenue, Meza said, along with five suspects who were each arrested on two counts of second-degree felony kidnapping.
Kaylee Judeth Duque, 18; Carlos Salvador Davila, 17; Jesus Cordero Castellano, 27; Ricardo Juarez Roque, 22; and Maythe Sujey Duque, 22, were arraigned Tuesday afternoon, and Alamo Municipal Court Judge Celia Garcia set their bonds at $80,000 each. As of press time, they remained in custody at Hidalgo County jail, and could face federal charges.
All suspects with the exception of one are believed to be U.S. citizens, Meza noted.
Police believe the migrants had been held for two to three days and were told by the suspects that they each needed to pay $1,700 to continue their journey north. The migrants’ intended final destinations are unknown to police, and it’s unknown whether they were part of a larger group.
Meza said the house, which the suspects had only recently rented, “did not fit the normal” description of a stash house in that it was in fairly good condition and was “respectfully kept.”
“We want to make sure residents are on the lookout for suspicious things like residences that have all their windows covered … where they see a large amount of food being brought in at different times of day … different cars coming in at night … people trying to conceal a large amount of trash being taken out of the residence,” Meza said of signs a site is being used as a stash house.
Alamo police last busted a migrant stash house in the city about two months ago, Meza said.