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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI recovers 23-month old child during human smuggling venture

HOUSTON — Late Wednesday night special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) recovered a toddler who had been separated from her mother during a human smuggling venture.

The 23-month-old child was recovered Nov. 28 after being smuggled into the United States from Mexico. The mother was separated from the child following their illegal entry into the United States; she was subsequently apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol officers near the south Texas border.

The girl's mother informed officers that she was in contact with smugglers about her daughter and that the smugglers were seeking additional money to return the child. Contact was made with an individual in Houston alleging to be the child's babysitter. After a series of calls, the child was delivered to HSI special agents in Houston. The young girl is currently in Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) custody. HSI is working with CPS to reunite the child with her mother.

Information developed by HSI Falcon Dam special agents revealed that smuggling arrangements were made to have the child transported to New York for a fee of $9,000. This investigation is ongoing.

Human smuggling is the importation of people into the United States by deliberately evading immigration laws. This includes bringing illegal aliens into the country, as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of illegal aliens already in the country. Smuggling situations often involve death, rape, torture and assault.

HSI is the lead U.S. law enforcement agency responsible for combating human smuggling and human trafficking.