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HOUSTON -- Dozens of suspected illegal immigrants were found stuffed inside a one-bedroom apartment in southwest Houston on Thursday.

The apartment was located in the 9300 block of Synott Road near Bissonnet.

Officers said the 39 men and four women were smuggled here from Mexico and Central America.

I had no idea they were even here, said neighbor Shaneice Richardson. I don t know how they got here.

Authorities said they had already paid to come here, but were being held for ransom in an attempt to get more money from their families. Their clothes had been taken from them so they couldn t run away.

Officials said some of the immigrants had been in the apartment for four to five days, while others had only been there for a few hours. Investigators said some of their clothes were still wet from swimming across the river to get here.

The 43 people were handcuffed and loaded onto an awaiting bus.

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