Search for teenage girl leads police to 80 undocumented immigrants inside Houston 'stash house'

POSTED: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 2:00am

UPDATED: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 2:04am

The search for a teenage girl led ICE agents to more than 80 illegal immigrants being held in a "stash house" in near Houston, Texas Wednesday.

The search began when a distraught mother called NBC Houston affiliate KPRC Tuesday, fearing for the life of her 16-year-old daughter.

She said the teen was in the hands of smugglers who brought her to the U.S. from Nicaragua and were demanding more ransom payments.

The call helped federal agents raid a southwest Houston home where more than 80 people were being held against their will.

ICE agents and Houston police officers arrested two men accused of holding the girl for ransom.

The teen was turned over to agents in a parking lot near Interstate 10.

When police stormed the house Wednesday night, they found 57 men, 16 women and nine juveniles who were brought to the U.S. illegally by human smugglers.

"They appear to be in dire straights. Some of them haven't eaten in 12 hours. All of them were in their underwear. No one has shoes. No one had clothes," said Greg Palmore, an ICE spokesman.

All of the victims are undergoing health screenings.

Their immigration will be determined in the next few weeks.

The girl was described as doing "OK."  

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