IRVING, Texas -- Ten men are being held on allegations of kidnapping and unlawful restraint after authorities found dozens of people living in unlicensed rehab facilities in Irving and Fort Worth.
Some of the people claimed that they had been beaten and held against their will. Some claimed that they were given little more than Ramen noodles to eat.
“There were other individuals in the home who said that they were thankful that we were there and for getting them out of that situation,” said James McLellan, an Irving police spokesman, “but there were also some that claimed that they were there willingly and they had not been physically assaulted or abused and that what was occurring there help them to kick their addiction.”
The so-called patients appear to have been people of limited means, brought there by their by their families for help with alcohol or drug additions. They were mostly Hispanic.
State officials said a person could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for operating a drug treatment facility without a state-issued license.
Irving police began investigating Tuesday morning when they got a call about a man being chased down Union Bower Road by three other men.
Jesus Dorado told police he was being held against his will at the house.
“He didn't want to be there anymore and he was trying to flee,” said Irving police spokesman James McLellan.
Police went to the home to do a welfare check and found at least 30 people living there. They had been sleeping on mats.
“We’re still investigating who all was in the house and who all was there voluntarily,” McLellan said.
Danillo Maldonado told police that he had escaped from a facility in Fort Worth. He said six men had grabbed him while he was walking down an Irving street in late September. He told police they threw him in a truck.
He told police that “severely beat” him and made him return to the Penn Street location in Irving, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
“The defendants told Maldonado that if he left again, he would be killed,” the affidavit says.
Augustin Para Hernandez told authorities that in late September he had been tied down with a plastic cord and held against his will. Police took him to the hospital, but he fled before authorities could talk to him further.
A woman who lives next door to the Penn Street house said she knew they were operating a drug-treatment facility.
“I don't see nothing bad,” she said. “Sometimes the guys don't want to stay over there and the other guys bring them back, but I don't see nothing bad.”
She says they helped her friend.
“He changed,” the neighbor said. “He no drink anymore. He never said somebody no give him food.”
She said she was sad that the facility had been shut down.
Pervez Raza, the owner of the Penn Street property, says he'd been renting the house for several years to a group who'd been running an Alcoholics Anonymous program. He says they were doing good work and he said he did not believe the allegations that people were kidnapped or not being fed.
“They’ve been good people,” he said. “They’ve been taking care of my property.”
He says he would check the paperwork to see whose name was on the lease. He said was being paid about $500 or $600 a month.
Raza also said that city code inspectors had approved the use of the home for that purpose.
City officials say they were checking their records to see what contact they had with people in the house.
Angela Plasek lives just around corner from the Penn Street house.
"We didn't think anything was going on like that,” Plasek said.
After the discovery of the Irving house, detectives then went to the facility in Fort Worth on Brentwood Stair Road.
They found 11 people who were apparently living and receiving drug treatment at the house.
Fort Worth police said some of the people claimed they had been kidnapped and held against their will.
“The victims were often beaten, tied to chairs, and fed one package of Ramen noodles a day,” a Fort Worth release said. “Good patients were allowed to eat beans, rice, and potatoes one day a week. Beds were made of wooden two-by-fours.”
The release said the victims were starving and were fed by Fort Worth police.
A Fort Worth police spokeswoman the investigation was trying to determine how many of them were held against their will or deprived of food.
The seven men arrested in Irving were identified as Carlos Diaz, 20; Leonel Omar Feranandez, 39; Bryan Gutierrez, 21; Jose Pascual Hernandez, 29; Jose Pascual Hernandez, 31; Jonathan Ortiz, 21 and Jorge Ramirez, 30.
Rodrigo Soto Gonzalez, 23; Ricardo Rodriguez Taylor, 21 and Adolfo Tello, 60, were arrested in Fort Worth.
All of the men declined jail interview requests.
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