Houston police say they rescued 26 people clad only in their underwear from a boarded-up house Thursday night where they were allegedly held hostage in a human smuggling operation. Neighbors called 911 after a nearly naked man was seen running down the street shouting that he had been kidnapped, authorities said. He also banged on doors and begged, in Spanish, for the police to be summoned.
The distraught man led officers to a locked home with boarded-up windows, police said. Inside, cops found the three-bedroom house teeming with people in their undergarments. One man had fallen through the home's attic and had minor injuries.
There were 25 men and one woman, police said. They were taken to a nearby school to get warm, authorities said. Neighbors who saw the people being led from the house brought clothes for them, according to local reports.
During questioning, the people said they had been held against their will after being picked up in the Texas border town of Brownsville, police said. They had been held in the home for up to a week, authorities said.
They came from countries including Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Cuba, police said.
A Houston police spokesman said the Department of Homeland Security is assisting, and investigators are currently trying to determine if some of those found in the house were actually involved in the alleged smuggling ring.
The federal agency will determine what will happen to the people who were rescued, police said.