US authorities opened an investigation Friday into a possible human smuggling operation after police in Houston found more than 90 people crammed into a home in the Texas city.

Assistant Police Chief DB Edwards said police were initially alerted to the house in a southwest Houston neighborhood by a report of a kidnapping.

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“When they got inside the house they realized this is actually going to turn into a human smuggling investigation,” Edwards told reporters. “It was a big surprise when we got in the house and saw what we saw.”

He said police discovered just over 90 people in the modest two-storey home. Five were women and the rest were men. No children were among the group.

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Edwards said it appears to be “definitely more of a smuggling thing and not a trafficking thing.”

“I don’t know if they were going to be parceled off into doing some kind of work or labor or something like that,” he said.

Edwards said some of the people in the house appeared to have COVID-19 and would need to be quarantined. “We do have some people that are symptomatic.” he said.

Edwards did not say where the people in the house came from but the Texas-Mexico border is a known crossing point for illegal immigrants to the United States.