- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - A Mexican man has been sentenced to life in a U.S. prison for leading a human smuggling ring that held more than 20 immigrants hostage in Houston.

Samuel Castro-Flores was sentenced Thursday in Houston.

Castro-Flores last March was convicted of 18 counts including conspiracy to commit hostage taking, hostage taking and other charges involving smuggling immigrants and firearms.

Prosecutors say Castro-Flores led a group responsible for stashing more than two dozen immigrants at a locked home with boarded windows. The victims, who were rescued on Sept. 7, 2012, were under armed guard and threatened amid extortion demands to their relatives.

Castro-Flores in 2009 was convicted of conspiracy to harbor immigrants in South Texas and deported in 2011, but re-entered the U.S. illegally. He was arrested in late 2012 in Houston.

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