Federal agents found 37 suspected illegal immigrants, smuggled into the United States from six countries, crammed into a small house in Riverside where some had been held captive for weeks, authorities said Wednesday.
Immigration agents raided the "drop house" after a relative of one of the captives called the Los Angeles Police Department. The caller told police the smugglers had threatened to kill his relative because the family failed to come up with enough money to pay for his release, according to Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles.
Agents found the immigrants — including two toddlers and a baby — in a small bedroom, measuring about 10 by 12 feet. The room was locked from the outside and the windows were boarded up. The home is in one of the city's older neighborhoods along Martin Luther King Boulevard, about a mile east of the 91 Freeway.
"As far as we know, they were all in pretty good physical condition, though some reported that they had not eaten for days," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE in Los Angeles.