Federal authorities say they have rescued three Salvadoran children who were being held hostage by suspected human smugglers in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Authorities believe the children’s parents live in Washington, D.C., and paid $13,000 to have the children smuggled into the country.
They say the children — who range in age from 11 to 15 — arrived in Phoenix in late April and the smugglers refused to release them unless the parents paid an additional $6,500. Once that extra fee was paid, the smugglers then demanded another $7,000 and the parents called authorities.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say the children were left at a business in west Phoenix and appeared to be in good health when they were rescued Tuesday. They say an investigation into the smuggling scheme is continuing.