CHANDLER, Ariz. – The Department of Public Safety raided a drop house in Chandler on Wednesday and found close to a dozen kidnapping victims inside.
Investigators suspect that some of the victims were bound for the sex trade industry.
An email from a concerned family in Florida asking for help initiated the investigation. Thanks to the efforts of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, that email made its way to the DPS IMPACT Team. The email claimed a family member was being held for ransom somewhere in the Phoenix area.
Less than 24 hours later, the DPS IMPACT team was able to track down the kidnapping victim.
The victims were being held inside a home near Chandler Heights and McQueen roads.
Officers found 10 victims and six suspects. According to investigators, it’s possible the human smugglers were not only holding the victims for ransom, but they were looking to make extra cash by entering the female victims into the sex trade industry.
Some of the victims had been there for weeks.
The house is right in the middle of an upscale suburban neighborhood. Detectives say this is the new standard for drop houses. The troubled housing market has allowed these so-called coyotes to move into neighborhoods like this and set up shop.
3TV talked to people who live next door and they had no idea what was going on.
The suspects now face kidnapping, extortion and human smuggling charges. The victims, who are Guatemalan immigrants, will be handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.