(Original airdate Jan. 30)
One growing danger in America's border crisis surrounds stash houses. Cartel criminals move humans across the border into the U.S, holding them like cattle in poor and dangerous conditions. Southern Texas is one place where the number of stash houses and related crime are spiking— with the record number of illegal border crossings.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Roma, Texas. Border Patrol gets called about a suspected stash house for human smuggling. When agents arrive, 15 people run out the back. 17 more are inside.
An hour’s drive away in Edinburg, Texas, 27 illegal immigrants are found stuffed in an apartment.
Stash houses are where illegal immigrants are held until the cartels can distribute them across the U.S. 57 in one house. 62 in another.
Sheriff Martin Cuellar: We may find 70 immigrants in one given place.
Webb County, Texas Sheriff Martin Cuellar.
Sharyl: Can you explain the stash houses? Have you been finding more people packed into stash houses in the past six months or year?
Sheriff Cuellar: Oh, yeah. Over a year we've been getting a lot of stash houses. And once we knock, you may see one immigrant open the door. And then all of a sudden you see just bodies laying everywhere. Everywhere that there's a space, they're going to lay. They're going to be sitting down or taking a nap or whatever it may be. And some of those houses don't even have air conditioning. They don't have electricity. They're just made to stash illegals.
Sharyl: Who's stashing them, and where are they going next?
Sheriff Cuellar: Well, you have to remember where they come from. When they're coming from Mexico — but they're coming from other countries, right. But once they come into Mexico, they become property of the cartels. I mean, they're making millions and millions of dollars getting the immigrants across the river banks. At the same time, they're doing drugs, but they're doing a lot with the immigrants because it's a win-win situation.
Sharyl: So the people who are in a stash house, are they waiting for a ride to be picked up and distributed somewhere else in the country?
Sheriff Cuellar: Oh, yeah. They're waiting. They're waiting for their coyote — you know, that we call the coyote — the one that's going to handle the transportation. And once they do that, they get everything arranged. And it might be an 18-wheeler, maybe in pickup trucks, stolen pickup trucks that sometimes we're not able to seize. But that's what they do, and they do it best because it's a very affluent organization that they know what they're doing.
Mayor Pete Saenz: 96% of the people that crossed through here, the Laredo area, are single adults, and some of these folks end up in stash houses.
Laredo, Texas Mayor Pete Saenz.
Saenz: These stash homes are organized through criminal activity, connections to the cartels. We have local gangs that basically are in charge here. The stash houses then translate into tractor trailer loads going north, train loads, going north. And there's criminal activity. There's money. There's drugs. So it's to the point that if it's not controlled in the very near future, it can also lead to something that that can be extremely dangerous for us. And I, as a mayor, I'm very concerned, and this is why I've been asking for resources, border patrol, police, and resources so we can root this out. But the cause of this, because the border is not secure, we need to secure the border, right? You secure the border adequately, you'll eliminate these stash homes, you will eliminate some of the asylum-seekers.
Sharyl (on-camera): In a period of just a few hours, Border Patrol agents picked more than 180 illegal immigrants in stash houses in Laredo.
Watch "Stash Houses" here.
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