“I don’t know if they were going to parcel them off into doing some work or labor, but it is definitely more of a smuggling thing and not a trafficking thing,” Houston police said

By Naledi Ushe
April 30, 2021 08:04 PM
Advertisement
smuggling people
Houston Police Department
| Credit: Houston PD

About 90 people were found inside a Houston home on Friday in what police believe is a "human smuggling" case.

Officers were tipped off on Thursday after receiving a call of potential kidnapping, Houston Police Assistant Chief Daryn Edwards said during a press conference.

Once officers arrived on the scene, "they realized this is actually gonna turn into a human smuggling investigation," Edwards said.

"When we got into the house we realized there were over 90 people inside and so we immediately began to assess any kind of a special threat inside," Edwards said. "It was a big surprise when we got in the house and saw what we saw."

He added that the people were "huddled together" in the two-story home, but they were not tied up and police have "no knowledge of any firearms."

"I don't know if they were going to parcel them off into doing some work or labor, but it is definitely more of a smuggling thing and not a trafficking thing," Edwards added.

Edwards said that there were no children found inside the house, with the youngest person found being in their early 20s and the oldest in their late 30s.

The Houston Fire Department provided medical care, food and water to the people, who were comprised of roughly five women with the rest being men, inside the two-story house, who said "they hadn't eaten in a while," according to Edwards.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases. 

Some of the people were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 — including fever and loss of taste and smell — and rapid tests are being conducted while the people remain isolated in the house. Edwards said that some may end up needing to quarantine.

"We are concerned that there may be some positive COVID cases inside the house," Edwards said, adding that the Houston Health Department is conducting the rapid COVID testing.

There have been no arrests made yet in this case. Once COVID testing is complete, police will work to identify both the dozens of people found as well as potential smugglers.

Edwards suggested that potential smugglers or others involved would try to blend in with the rest of the people discovered in the house: "As you can imagine, somebody involved in something like this as soon as they realize that we're here, they're probably going to try to be a part of them," he said.

An investigation is ongoing.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.