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Houston Police Rescue 26 From Alleged Human Smuggling Operation

Houston police said they rescued 26 people from a human smuggling operation Thursday after discovering them in a home located less than a five minute's walk from an elementary school.

Police said they were alerted to the scene after they received a report of a man running down a street yelling that he had been kidnapped.

When officers arrived, the man said nearly 30 others were being held hostage in a nearby house.

Police entered the boarded-up home and found 25 men and one woman. When questioned, many said they were being held against their will and had been there for up to a week. It's unclear if any had injuries at the time of their discovery.

Investigators told Houston's ABC13 that the victims were first picked up in Brownsville, Texas, a city along the border with Mexico and more than 300 miles south of Houston. The men and the woman originated from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Cuba, police said.

They were taken to the nearby school for shelter, where neighbors provided clothes.

Representatives from the Houston Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the local FBI branch did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.