LOS ANGELES, March 9, 2009 (AFP) - A Guatemalan national who headed the "Three Franciscos" smuggling ring that brought more than 9,000 illegal migrants into the United States, was sentenced Monday to six-and-a-half year in prison, court officials said.
Francisco Andres-Francisco, 40, was arrested 14 months ago and pleaded guilty in November of helping thousands of illegal aliens by hiding them, finding them lodgings and arranging for their travel to different US states.
Judge George King Monday sentenced him to six-and-a-half years in prison.
In all, 12 members of the Los Angeles-based Guatemalan gang have been charged with running a smuggling operation that moved more than 9,000 aliens from Mexico, Central and South America across the border and to different US for an average fee of 5,600 dollars.
The smuggling ring was uncovered in a three-year investigation by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that began in May 2005, when Los Angeles police discovered two "drop houses" in a 24-hour period with more than 140 illegal migrants packed inside.
Another five members of the Three Franciscos have pleaded guilty in the smuggling scheme: Francisco Andres-Pedro, also a gang leader, and a driver for the group have been jailed 33 and 15 months respectively. Three others are scheduled for sentencing.
Six other defendants, including Francisco Pedro-Francisco, 30, the third Francisco, are still at large.