HPD: 3 charged with human smuggling after 12 people found in sweltering hot cargo van

HOUSTON-- The Houston Police Department is investigating after three people were charged with human smuggling.

According to officers, a Penske rental truck was found at a strip center parking lot in the 7600 block of Harwin Sunday. Ten men, one woman and a juvenile had been closed inside, where temperatures reached 100 degrees. The victims had been banging on the walls of the truck for hours in hopes that someone would hear them and let them out.

“There is no good season for human trafficking, but summer time in Houston has to be the worst,” Harris County First Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg said. “Thirty more minutes and this could have been a dozen homicide cases.”

Police have arrested Priscila Perez Beltran, 21, Adela Alvarez, 26 and Nelson Cortes Garcia, 27 in connection to the crime. They are currently being held on $300,000 bail and faces up to two to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The case remains under investigation by police and the human-trafficking section of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.