Posted on December 8, 2020

Illegal Immigrant from Honduras Charged in Houston Human Smuggling Case

Holly Hansen, The Texan, December 5, 2020

On Friday afternoon federal prosecutors charged a Honduran national illegally residing in Houston with harboring 29 individuals in a local stash house.

On Thursday, December 3, police responded to a call about a man running down the street in his underwear in southwest Houston, and discovered nearly thirty people being held hostage in an area rented home. Most of the victims, 28 men and one woman, had been stripped of clothing, possibly to inhibit escape attempts, and Houston police turned over the investigation to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as a possible human smuggling operation.

ICE agents subsequently arrested Mauro Dominguez-Maldonado, a 36-year-old Honduran national, at the scene. He is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy on Monday, December 7, and faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine if convicted.

Dominguez-Maldonado was found among the 29 victims being held in the alleged stash house, which reportedly had boarded up windows and dead-bolt locks on the inside doors.

The criminal complaint filed in federal court alleges Dominguez-Maldonado was in charge of watching over the aliens and performing multiple tasks in furtherance of a human smuggling operation.

Victims were reportedly from various Latin American countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Cuba, and police say they were picked up by alleged smugglers in the Brownsville area last week.

Human smuggling along the southern border can be a profitable venture for so-called coyotes, who charge thousands of dollars per person to bring a wide array of people into the country without undergoing background or medical screening. {snip}


After news broke of the police rescue, NBC affiliate Click2Houston reported on a local woman who said her cousin was one of the 29 victims held hostage. She explained that her family had paid $11,000 to have the young man smuggled into the country, but that the Mexican gang Los Zetas had abducted and held him for a $3,000 ransom. The woman said her cousin had been sent back to Mexico following his rescue.