A kidnapping investigation led police to a “surprise” discovery inside a Texas house: over 90 people huddled together with some possibly infected with COVID-19.
Houston police learned of the possible kidnapping Thursday and investigated through the night, securing a search warrant for a house on the southwest side of the city, officials say.
“It was a big surprise when we got in the house and saw what we saw,” Assistant Police Chief Daryn Edwards said Friday afternoon.
Inside the two-story home, the SWAT team found 91 people ranging in age from the 20s to upper 30s with five women in the group of mostly men, officials say.
Investigators believe they stumbled upon a human smuggling operation undetected by anyone in the community.
“We haven’t heard anything from any of the neighbors as far as anything that would lead them to believe that there was something like that going on inside,” Edwards said. “It’s very surprising.”
Several of the people reported symptoms of COVID-19, including loss of smell and taste and fever. The city health department went to the house to conduct testing for the virus, officials say.
The people remained inside the house until the health department can determine who may need to quarantine.
“We are concerned there may be some positive COVID cases inside the house,” Edwards said.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Investigations was trying to determine who brought the people to the house.
“We’ve got to separate who the victims are,” Edwards said. “Somebody that would be involved with something like this, as soon as they realize we’re here, they’re probably going to try to become a part of them.”