Last month, Houston police arrested five men who took part in an alleged human kidnapping and smuggling operation. Authorities opened the investigation after a family reported their relative was being held captive for a ransom in a house located in northwest Houston.

Two women and 16 men, all from Latin American countries, ranging from juveniles to adults, were rescued from the house. According to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, the female subjects were forced to work and perform sexual acts with barely any clothing for 25 days.

The investigation started when a family member called the Houston police to report a kidnapping and was told to pay a $4,700 ransom, and was threatened with the family member’s death if the money was not delivered.

Investigators traveled to an area where they believed the subjects were being held. A traffic stop nearby led to the arrest of 2 individuals and the rescue of one juvenile male. The capture of the two men allowed officers to gain more information on the location of a stash house, which resulted in the arrest of 3 more men and recovery of 18 men and women. The police also recovered more than $10,000, 19 grams of cocaine, and four guns. The Department of Homeland Security also took part in the investigation.

Houston police released the names and ages of the five men arrested: Moris Gudiel Campos-Gomez, 39; Gabriel Salazar-Bautista,35; Fredy Moreno-Gil, 26; Jose Manuel Aviles-Diaz, 26; and the youngest Jose Silvestre Chavarrieta-Gusman, 18. The men were all charged with engaging in organized criminal activity by kidnapping. Aviles-Diaz, Chavarrieta-Gusman, and Campos-Gomez were also charged with sexual assault.

Federal immigration records reveal Mexican national Gabriel Salazar-Bautista was deported in 2009 and again in 2013. He was arrested in the traffic stop on June 3, 2019, and charged with illegal re-entry after removal and kidnapping.

Moris Gudiel Campos-Gomez was deported to El Salvador in 2017.

Fredy Moreno-Gil returned to Mexico voluntarily when he met with immigration authorities in 2011 and 2013.