3 plead guilty over immigrant smuggling

HOUSTON The U.S. attorney's office says sentencing is Sept. 19 for Everardo Flores-Castaneda and Arturo Hernandez-Villegas, both of Mexico, and Gelber Cornelio Pereira of Brazil.

The three pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens.

Each could also be fined up to $250,000.

Federal agents in January received calls from families of some illegal immigrants reporting their relatives were held by smugglers demanding up to $15,000 ransom per person.

Surveillance helped lead to one house with 15 illegal immigrants, and another with six immigrants, including a 6-year-old boy.

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