- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

McALLEN, Texas (AP) - Seven men have been sentenced to prison for smuggling people across the border with Mexico and repeatedly demanding families of the people pay ransom to free them.

Federal prosecutors say the men were sentenced Tuesday in McAllen, with the longest term of nearly 30 years being handed down to 19-year-old Luis Aguilar Jr. of Mission. Each earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit hostage-taking.

Authorities say a group of people in the country illegally were being held at a stash house in May 2016 when Aguilar and the others burst in and abducted them at gunpoint.

The victims were taken to another location and their families were told to pay $2,000 to free them. The group was then turned over to other smugglers who in turn demanded more money for their release.

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