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Immigrants rescued from smugglers in US

Immigrants rescued from smugglers in US

Federal agents rescued two illegal immigrants being held hostage by smugglers under brutal conditions and arrested the two men suspected of holding them captive, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday.
An Ecuadorean and a Salvadoran were rescued from a home in Lancaster on Tuesday night after agents received a tip that smugglers were holding a man hostage and abusing him to collect a $5,000 smuggling fee, ICE said in a statement.
One of the immigrants told investigators he was a captive for three weeks at the home, which had boarded windows. He said his captors beat him, used stun guns and starved him for almost two weeks. The man told investigators he survived because another smuggled immigrant shared his meals with him.
Arrested on charges of harboring illegal immigrants were Robert Jose-Tomas, 23, of Mexico, and Diego Francisco-Pascual, 32, of Guatemala. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
ICE said both men are in the United States illegally.
Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE investigations office in Los Angeles, said the case demonstrates the ruthlessness of the human smuggling trade.
"To the smugglers, these people are nothing more than a payday," he said. "They have no qualms about using threats and violence."


Updated : 2021-08-04 03:54 GMT+08:00