Anonymous tip leads to rescue of 69 immigrants
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – One anonymous tip to law enforcement about a stash house in southeast Albuquerque recently saved dozens of lives.
Investigators found 69 immigrants in a trailer, and at least one man, Rolando Joaquin-Miguel, is facing federal charges in connection to it.
Once they got inside, they “observed 26 people lying on the floor of the main entryway attempting to hide under blankets.”
A criminal complaint also describes “dozens of males huddled together on the floor of two small rooms, and about 14 females separated in a small room.”
Survivors reported the people in control of the operation “was using threats of physical harm, forced labor, and coercion to make sure the occupants did not flee or leave the residence.”
“It seems like they’re doing it more and more often now,” said Leticia Zamarripa, a spokesperson for Homeland Security Investigations. “And the conditions are atrocious. Often times they don’t have running water, there’s lack of food. They see dollar signs. And they have total disregard for their health, for their safety.”
Experts say the real work starts after the trailer is empty, and investigators clear out.
“The first thing we do is try and stabilize them because they’re in crisis,” said Lynn Sanchez, the director of The Life Link’s Human Trafficking and Aftercare program.
Life Link is a nonprofit that helps hundreds of survivors across the state every year.
“How they’re going first of all be safe, and then secondly where do they need to go where’s their support system do they have a support system,” said Sanchez.
They helped seven from the southeast Albuquerque bust.
“They talk about being gang raped, they talk about being beaten all the time, being humiliated,” said Sanchez. “A lot of them reported being in the same exact same clothes for over thirty days. They were given a tortilla a day, they didn’t have food.”
Her law enforcement partners say there’s been an increase in these types of busts in the last year, and especially the last three months.
“The trauma around that is very you know psychological, it’s physical, it’s emotional, it’s sexual trauma, it’s all of that,” said Sanchez.
She reminds you the public is one of the best tools to help investigators bust these stash houses, so if you see something in your neighborhood, say something.