HOUSTON - Houston police say four men found living in a dungeon-like garage told investigators they were held against their will after being lured with the promise of cigarettes and alcohol.
Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva described the men as malnourished and possibly homeless. She says the garage had no bathroom and no beds, only a chair.
"It's a bare room," she said. "There's linoleum, there's a chair. There's a window A/C unit that may or may not have been working. It was kept fairly clean for what they were able to have access to. However, there was no bed, there was no bed linens and no restroom."
The men allegedly told investigators they were forced to live in the garage so their captor could cash their disability and public assistance checks.
"The men initially told us that they were lured their with the promise of cigarettes and food and once they arrived their at the address they were not allowed to leave and were kept in these conditions," Silva said.
Silva says one person has been detained but not charged.
Neighbors say they sometimes saw the men outside and waving as they drove past.
Investigators were still trying to determine how long the men lived in the garage, but Silva said it was at least weeks.
As a result of this incident in Houston, and the case earlier this year in Cleveland, the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking reports increased calls to their Colorado hotline.
"People start to pay attention what's happening in their own neighborhoods," said Amanda Finger, executive director of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking.
Seventy-five calls have been logged so far this year, compared to 50 for all of last year concerning people being used for labor or sex trafficking.
"We receive tips, we receive calls from individuals in crisis, " said Finger.
The hotline can be reached at 1-866-455-5075.