A woman from Friona, Texas has been accused of holding 17 undocumented immigrants hostage in her home.
An investigation began when law enforcement in California received a tip from a woman claiming her sister was being held for ransom in Texas. The woman's sister reportedly traveled from Guatemala to Mexico and intended to seek asylum in the US, but was ordered to cross the border by a Mexican cartel that was holding her captive.
The woman's sister said she was forced into a car at gunpoint, then several months later, she was walked across the border and shuttled from house to house in both Texas and New Mexico.
30-year-old Manuela Magdalena Jimon Castro of Friona and an unnamed family member allegedly partnered with this smuggling operation to hold the 17 immigrants hostage at her home. This is where the woman mentioned previously ended up.
According to a press release, Castro threatened to deprive her hostages of food and water and wouldn't let them leave the home until they paid her $11,000 or worked off the "debt." The recovered immigrants would later police that smugglers had taken their cell phones and they were only allowed intermittent contact with their family to obtain money to pay for their "entrance fee."
If convicted, Castro faces up to 5 years in federal prison for the charge of alien harboring.