Security vision has captured the moment a near-naked kidnapped man ran for his life, leading to the discovery of more than 29 people being held captive in a residential neighbourhood.
Police were called to a house on the southwestern edge of Houston, in the US state of Texas, after a man in red boxer shorts was reportedly begging neighbours for help about 5pm on Thursday (local time).
When officers arrived, the man led law enforcement to a house where he was allegedly being held captive.
In total, 29 men and one woman were found inside the house in what was believed to be a failed people smuggling operation.
“That’s a pretty significant number for us to encounter,” Commander Jonathon Halliday of the Houston Police Department told Fox News.
The men were found inside a home stripped of their clothes, freezing and hungry – a common tactic used by people smugglers to keep victims captive until their ‘smuggling fee’ is paid by their families, ABC 13 reports.
Man begs neighbours for help
Local Adrian Hidalgo was inside his home when the man wearing red underwear knocked on his door.
He told ABC 13 he couldn’t hear the man at the time because of dogs barking loudly, but after reviewing his security footage he could hear the man begging for help.
“There was running around, begging … Then, looking at the cameras, we can hear, 'Por favor, por favor,’” he said.
Video posted to Twitter shows police leading a crowd of men dressed in their underwear from a house on Raven Ridge Drive to a nearby school to keep them warm as they were processed.
Neighbours offered clothing and food to the victims, telling media the situation is common in Houston.
"I know they must have been under bad situations, for it to have to come to that point, that someone escaped to ask for help with no clothes and it was freezing yesterday,” Christina Hernandez told ABC 13.
Veteran immigration attorney Jacob Monty told ABC 13 Houston was a hub for human trafficking.
"These are victims of the coyotes (people hired to smuggle people across the US border) and the smugglers that are holding them for ransom. They are not surrendering them until the family members have paid an additional sum," he explained.
Authorities have arrested three suspected smugglers including one Honduran national who was allegedly illegally residing in Houston.
Houston police are waiting for immigration officials to begin their investigation, Fox reports.
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