HOUSTON (KIAH) – A total of five people, all undocumented residing in Houston, have been sentenced in connection with the April 2021 discovery of nearly 100 undocumented immigrants in a suburban Houston residence, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. 

The leader in the conspiracy – Henry Licona-Larios, 34, Copan, Honduras – pleaded guilty May 24, 2022.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ordered him to serve 41 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment.

At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that detailed the inhumane conditions to which these undocumented aliens were subjected and that Licona-Larios was connected to an additional undocumented alien stash house discovered in December 2020.

The investigation began April 30, 2021, when authorities learned of a kidnapping. A woman reported that she had paid several thousand dollars for her brother to be smuggled into the country. 

However, the smugglers demanded more money before they would release him. They also threatened to harm him if the money was not paid.

The investigation led to a residence on Chessington Drive in southwest Houston. There, authorities ultimately found 97 undocumented immigrants held in two rooms of the residence.

The rooms had deadbolts on the doors facing the outside which prevented escape. All of the male individuals were in their undergarments. One was told if the money was not paid, he would be put in “four pieces of wood.” 

All five have been and will remain in custody.