McALLEN, Texas (AP) - Three people have been sentenced for smuggling immigrants into Texas who in some cases were held hostage in order to extort money from their families back home.
Federal prosecutors in South Texas announced Wednesday that 23-year-old Ivan Cabrera of Edinburg received the lengthiest term of more than five years in prison. Another Edinburg man, 27-year-old Michael Ayala, was ordered to serve nearly three years. Meanwhile, 52-year-old Mexican national Maria Isabel Rivera-Castillo was sentenced to more than four years.
The trio pleaded guilty in November to a variety of federal charges. They've been in custody since their arrests in September.
Prosecutors say the victims were beaten and threatened with physical and sexual abuse. Some were held for weeks as the three defendants sought money for their release.
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