Fleeing drugs, gangs, children cross border alone

EDINBURG, Texas — A cell phone call from a Spanish-speaking man who said he and others were locked in a house brought police to a dirt road on the outskirts of town. There they found three small homes used as “stash houses” to hide 117 illegal immigrants, including 10 children, who had just been smuggled across the Mexican border into the United States.

One of the homes had barred windows and a padlocked door. “Approximately 50 undocumented people were inside the residence,” said Edinburg Police Chief Rolando Castañeda. “There was no running water, very minimal food; it was pretty tough for them.”

Texas is responsible for regulating the care of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The Department of Health and Human Services is concerned about the future of these children.

Of the 10 boys locked with the adults inside the house, officials said, nine were unaccompanied, meaning they were traveling without their parents or adult guardians.

“They were being treated like animals,” said Castañeda. “There was a lot of desperation, there was a lot of fear in their eyes.”

All the children were taken to a local hospital, apparently suffering from dehydration.

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