BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Sixteen human trafficking victims were rescued in California after one of them escaped a home where they were being held captive and banged on a neighbor’s door. The incident was captured on the homeowner’s security camera.
The incident happened Friday shortly after midnight. The footage shows a man running up to a home and banging on the garage door. He then proceeds to scream, “Help us!”
An investigation by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) after the incident revealed 16 people were being held in an east Bakersfield home.
Isabel Ceja, a neighbor, said children were also heard pleading for help.
Sheriff’s deputies were called, and the man told them he was held captive in a home after being smuggled into the United States from Mexico. He also said 15 other victims, including his wife and a child, were being held in the same residence.
According to a statement from KSCO, deputies identified a residence in the 700 block of Salsa Street as the one from which the victim had fled. Ceja along with other neighbors said the home was always surrounded by cars. Neighbors also said the people living at the property had only been there one to two months and that they always kept to themselves.
KSCO has not confirmed this information.
Deputies executed a search warrant at the residence, according to KSCO, but did not find anyone inside. Further investigation revealed the additional victims had been taken to two locations, one in the 600 block of South Haley Street and the other at the 500 block of Sloan Lane near Foothill High School.
That is where the remaining victims were rescued. They range in age from 8 to 66.
Nine suspects aged 16 to 27 were identified and arrested. No charges had been filed against them as of Tuesday. A prosecutor said the case may be referred to federal authorities.
As for the neighbors, Ceja said the situation has left her frightened to the point that she’s now afraid to go outside.