Ex-border patrol agents get at least 30 years for smuggling immigrants into U.S.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -  A federal judge has sentenced two brothers who worked as Border Patrol agents to at least 30 years in prison for smuggling hundreds of immigrants into the United States.

U.S. District Court Judge John Houston sentenced Raul Villarreal to 35 years for leading the smuggling ring. His brother, Fidel Villarreal, was sentenced Friday to 30 years for managing the operation.

The sentences are among the longest given to border law enforcement officials.

Houston said he gave the severe sentences to deter others. The judge called their smuggling operation "disgusting" and a threat to national security.

 The brothers were accused of helping more than 500 migrants cross the border from Mexico.

The defense questioned the evidence and said the prosecution's witnesses in the San Diego trial weren't credible.


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