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Stash Houses in Bexar County: Homeland Security warns migrants about smuggler lies

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Thousands of migrants are turning themselves in at ports of entries for asylum every year. Thousands of others enter illegally and smuggled in by coyotes.

Homeland Security says the greed of these coyotes, may be putting migrants and you in danger.

There are images that most of us have seen when we speak of immigrants entering the U.S. through the border. Thousands lined up by the river in El Paso, hundreds crossing in desolate areas in Eagle Pass, but there are other ways some are coming in under the radar, and its being advertised on Facebook.

Their illegal entry is not easy, they dodge border patrol agents and authorities in the brush.

In the case of one young man whom we will call "Joaquin," to protect his identity, paying these underground "rides" can mean being kidnapped and tortured until their families pay more money.

Joaquin was picked up in Eagle Pass just past the checkpoint. The men who picked him up took him to a stash house in Bexar County.

Once there, they tried to extort Joaquin’s family for $4,000.

Abel Pena is a retired FBI agent who heads Project Absentis; a non-profit which helps find missing people.

“We've identified a couple of stash houses in San Antonio, where they've taken him, they've held him at gunpoint, they've tied him up, place him in a room, with usually three to four people, where they're instructed to remain in the room not to turn the lights on. Otherwise, they would be either beaten up or killed," said Pena.

Joaquin says these men treat immigrants like they are a box of shoes that can be sold off to the next coyote.

Abel Pena has been investigating these stash houses for months.

He says everyone is San Antonio should be concerned about what is going on inside.

We asked Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), who is in-charge of tracking down transnational organizations and their ties to the U.S. smuggling rings about the other danger the dirty money brings along with it

The job of HSI agents is so important, that according to San Antonio Congressman Henry Cuellar, therefore more funding is needed for them, but the biggest help for HSI is the public reporting suspicious activity.

Joaquin says he is lucky to have escaped but he knows others aren't as lucky and that is why he is willing to share his story

“His status is he's in a safe place. He is hopeful that his efforts by coming forward will hopefully involve arrests to take some of these people off the streets," Pena added.

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