35 immigrants held hostage in SoCal

Authorities found 35 illegal immigrants held against their will in a Baldwin Park home and arrested two men.
August 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dozens of undocumented immigrants were taken into custody Friday morning, and two men were arrested for holding them against their will. Authorities said 35 immigrants, including a 12-year-old boy, were discovered in a home on La Rica Avenue in Baldwin Park.

Officials arrested the two alleged captors Thursday night. Both men are from Guatemala and were taken into federal custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

"Obviously, this is the first time that this occurred of this capacity. I want to send them a notice that we're not going to tolerate this type of crime that's occurring. The human trafficking is just terrible and at this point, ICE has taken charge of the situation," said Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano.

Investigators raided the house after one of the illegal immigrants inside the home called 911 and said he was being held against his will.

When officials arrived, they found 30 juvenile males and five adult females inside an 800 square-foot home.

Officials said the hostages were being held at the house until family members paid a ransom for their release.

Residents said they did not know that the home was a drop house for illegal immigrants, but knew that something always seemed a little odd.

"It looked fishy because you see a truck in there, some sort of utility truck, but not really a lot of people were in there or merchandise or anything coming out of there. It just looked abandoned," observed resident Victor Cuevas.

"Oh goodness, they're being held against their will for human trafficking, right across from your own neighborhood. That's kind of strange. That's kind of scary," said neighbor Gabriella Guardado. "We just see different people coming in and out. One or two, always different, but you would never think that was going on."

According to authorities, all of the immigrants were smuggled into the country from Mexico and Central America. They were unharmed and in good condition.


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