A Mexican man was sentenced to 42 years in prison Wednesday after being convicted for his role in a human smuggling ring that involved at least eight Phoenix drop houses in 2008 and 2009.
Maricopa County prosecutors say 29-year-old Victor Castillo-Escobar was found guilty on charges of human smuggling, kidnapping, forgery and participation in a criminal syndicate.
Castillo-Escobar was arrested in February 2009 following a nine-month investigation. Authorities say Castillo-Estobar rented homes that were used as drop houses, took out utilities and transported kidnapped immigrants to various locations.
Authorities say Castillo-Estobar directed guards working for him in the drop houses and ran the day-to-day operations of the smuggling ring. The smugglers allegedly kidnapped and held immigrants for ransom and used violence and threats of death to extort money from victims' families.