McALLEN — Federal authorities arrested three men accused of holding 51 undocumented immigrants, threatening them with a handgun and a machete as well as paddling them to keep them in line.
The arrests came after a Guatemalan immigrant managed to escape the house and alert authorities.
On Friday afternoon, agents with U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division went to a house in the 6600 block of North Bentsen Road, where they arrested 51 undocumented immigrants and three men who, in addition to being immigrants from El Salvador, were in charge of holding them hostage, court records show. At the house, authorities seized a loaded 9 mm pistol, a machete and a wooden paddle.
Some of the immigrants who were detained as witnesses told investigators that Oscar Rosales, Jose Ferrufino and Gustavo de Jesus Vasquez each had a role in preparing food for them, making sure they didn’t leave the house and instilling discipline.
The witnesses told investigators that the three men were armed and would often intimidate the immigrants with the handgun and the machete.
Investigators spoke with Rosales who said he would cook for them and was the person who had the machete and the paddle but not the handgun. All three men told investigators that they didn’t make any threats or discipline any of the immigrants.
On Monday morning, the men were taken before a U.S. magistrate judge who formally charged them each with one count of harboring illegal immigrants and ordered they be held without bond pending a detention hearing later in the week.
Ildefonso Ortiz covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at email@example.com and (956) 683-4437.
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