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Honduran man sentenced for role in smuggling immigrants

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Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 12:00 am

McALLEN — A Honduran national who worked for an organization accused of holding several Central American migrants hostage was sentenced April 13 to three years in prison.

Oscar Humberto Hilton Romero, 32, was arrested in July 2009 at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Willacy Detention Center after two of his fellow inmates recognized him as the smuggler who helped them travel from Guatemala to the Reynosa stash house where they were held for ransom.

They claimed the group Hilton worked for demanded $3,500 from relatives back in their home country before they would be guided into the United States.

One of the migrants told authorities that Hilton himself had been an illegal immigrant seeking entry into the United States and only began working for the group after his own family couldn’t afford the demanded ransom.

He pleaded guilty in November to one count of bringing in and harboring aliens.

In all, ICE agents arrested three in connection with the smuggling organization. Hilton’s co-defendants have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to three years.

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