The FBI is sounding the alarm on the increasing trend of cartel smugglers holding migrants for ransom amounts of up to $10,000 at Texas stash houses after sneaking them across the U.S.-Mexico border.
FBI El Paso has arrested 15 suspects since February of this year in kidnappings for ransom incidents, a spokesperson for FBI El Paso confirmed in an email to Fox News Digital Wednesday. In many cases, the family or friends of the victims are asked to pay between a few thousand to $10,000 to secure the safe release of the migrants, who are forced to live in “deplorable conditions in stash houses in El Paso.”
Many of the houses don’t have hot water, are filled with trash, and lack adequate ventilation, while the migrants held there are often forced to drink water out of bathtubs, the spokesperson said.
“Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of these victims, not their immigration status,” Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. “These victims endure so many frightening situations along their journey moving up towards the United States, only to find themselves being threatened with violence or become victims of violent acts.”
“We need family members to report these kidnapping for ransom incidents immediately to the nearest Consulate or Embassy or our office. Seconds matter in these incidents to ensure the safe rescue of their loved ones,” Downey said. “As a community, we should be concerned about the increase of these kidnappings and the threat they pose to the public safety of our community. We need the public’s help to see suspicious activity occurring in their neighborhood to report it to law enforcement and help protect a vulnerable population,” the FBI statement concluded.
With information from Fox News