Illegal immigrant gets prison in ransom case

January 10, 2012 4:05:37 AM PST
Prosecutors in Houston say an illegal immigrant who led a smuggling ring that held people for ransom has been sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.

A federal judge on Monday sentenced 26-year-old Heriberto Perez-Pinon, who had been living in Houston.

Perez-Pinon in 2010 pleaded guilty to hostage taking. Authorities say smuggled immigrants were held until family or friends paid a release fee.

The investigation began in 2009 when two people escaped from a group being hauled to a Houston stash house. A concerned citizen contacted police on behalf of the pair.

Five co-defendants earlier pleaded guilty to hostage taking or conspiracy to commit hostage taking and have been sentenced to prison.

Further details on the home country of Perez-Pinon, who faces deportation after prison, were not immediately available.