More than six dozen illegal aliens, including three tearful children, were found by authorities in a house that served as a debtors prison for immigrants who could not pay their smugglers.
Ninety-one people were discovered in the house when it was raided by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Fourteen were suspected of being the smugglers, authorities said.All the aliens were from Mexico and owed from $300 to "whatever the market would bear" to the smugglers, known as coyotes, Tom Gaines, an assistant district director for the INS, said Thursday.
Neighbors noticed the coming and going of strangers and numerous cars at the rental home beginning about three weeks ago, said Donna Gimondo, who lives next door to the three-bedroom house in this Los Angeles suburb.
"We'd see three or four, as many as five get in a car, and it would be gone a half an hour and then just the driver would come back," she said.
She said the household was mostly quiet, "But on trash days there would be just this humongous pile of trash outside."
Twelve of those arrested were arraigned Wednesday on conspiracy and illegal immigrant smuggling charges. Two are juveniles and will be deported, authorities said.