HOUSTON (CN) - The discovery of 115 undocumented immigrants in a Houston stash house led to guilty pleas from five men who admitted they threatened to shoot their captives in the back of the head if they tried to escape.
Pleading guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal immigrants and using a gun during a violent crime were Antonio Barruquet-Hildeberta, 40; Jose Aviles-Villa, 34; Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, 28; Jose Cesmas-Borja, 22; and Eugenio Sesmas-Borja, 20, all of Michoacan, Mexico.
The coyotes testified they made a living smuggling immigrants across the border, then holding them in stash houses until their families paid for their release, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
"While in the stash house, the conspirators seized the victim aliens' clothes, shoes, phones and other possessions," prosecutors said. "The conspirators used guns, paddles, Tasers and other equipment to control and prevent the illegal aliens from escaping from the stash house. They guarded the aliens with guns displayed in plain view and threatened to kill them by shooting them in the back of the head if they tried to escape."
The men were arrested March 19 at the house on Old Almeda School Road in south Houston after police got a call from a grandmother, court records show.
The grandmother told police she paid a smuggler $15,000 to take her daughter and two grandkids to Chicago, but a smuggler in Houston had called and "stated if she did not pay them an additional $13,000 dollars, they would make 'her family disappear and make her family pay,'" charging documents state.
All of the men face up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
They will be in custody until their July 30 sentencing.