2 charged in Roma stash house of nearly 60 people

Two people accused of operating a stash house where Border Patrol discovered 59 undocumented immigrants on Dec. 18 appeared in federal court Friday for detention hearings.

Yajahira Lizette Garza and Juan Jose Gonzalez III are charged with harboring 59 undocumented immigrants inside a residence in Roma.

A criminal complaint against the pair notes that Border Patrol agents obtained information on Nov. 14 that the residence was a stash house, and a little more than a month later, the Roma Police Department heard from a concerned citizen who reported five people dressed in black being dropped off at the home and running inside.

Border Patrol agents along with Roma police approached the residence and knocked on the door.

They determined the man who answered was an undocumented immigrant.

“The agents observed several subjects run towards the back of the house but agents blocked the rear door preventing the subjects from absconding,” the complaint read.

Federal authorities discovered 59 people inside the house.

Several material witnesses spoke with agents, including a man from Guatemala who said he crossed the Rio Grande with three others on a raft and walked for several hours until he was picked up.

“The driver then picked up a female at a house and drove to the house where he was apprehended,” the complaint read.

When this man arrived at the house, there were approximately 25 people being held inside.

The material witness said Garza and Gonzalez showed up daily to check on them and that Garza would give instructions, court documents indicate.

A man from Mexico told agents he paid $1,300 to be taken to Houston.

“After being crossed into the United States, a guide instructed him to walk north from the river and cross the road,” the complaint read. “On the other side of the road a pickup truck would be waiting.”

Several other material witnesses shared similar stories with agents, including a man from Guatemala who paid $10,000 for his smuggling arrangements, the criminal complaint read.

As for the detention hearing, Garza will be held without bond pending trial while Gonzalez will appear in court again on Jan. 7 for a continuation of his detention hearing, court records show.