5 Men Arrested for Imprisoning 18 Immigrants for Ransom, Labor, and Sex Assault: Cops

Police in Houston, Texas have announced the arrests of 5 suspects in a smuggling and kidnapping case. Two women and 16 men were held captive, cops said on Friday. The survivors were described by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo as immigrants “from various Latin American countries.”

Cops identified the defendants as Jose Manuel Aviles-Diaz, 26, Moris Gudiel Campos Gomez, 39, Fredy Moreno-Gil, 26, Gabriel Salazar-Bautista, 35, and Jose Silvestre, 18, according to ABC 13.

Charges include engaging in organized criminal activity by kidnapping. Aviles-Diaz, Silvestre, and Campos-Gomez are also charged with aggravated sexual assault. It’s unclear if the defendants have attorneys in this matter.

Chief Acevedo told reporters in a press conference Friday that on June 5, a family member told police about a relative being kidnapped and held for ransom in the Houston area. Investigators performed a traffic stop in the area in which the kidnappers were believed to be. This resulted in them saving a juvenile, and detaining several suspects. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) participated in the investigation.

There was a rescue operation in northwest Houston to save the victims. There was also a money exchange to purchase an additional victim, cops said. Authorities learned about a stash house containing others held against their will. Another rescue operation at this residence resulted in the release of 16 other people, said cops.

The women were sexually assaulted, authorities said. The male survivors were detained down to their “skivvys” to prevent escape, and were “enslaved, in some cases, for work and sex,” cops said.

[Mugshots via Houston Police Department. Top row, from left: Campos Gomez, Silvestre, Avilez-Diaz.  Bottom row, from left: Salazar-Bautista, Moreno-Gil]

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