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Woman gets 16.5 years in prison for drop-house operation

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Woman gets 16.5 years in prison for drop-house operation

30-year-old ran Phx homes where immigrants were held hostage

A 30-year-old California woman was sentenced to 16.5 years in prison Monday for running drop houses in Phoenix where smuggled illegal immigrants were held hostage at gunpoint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Xochitl Padilla Barron, of Sacramento, became involved in human smuggling in July 2008 when she helped start a drop house in Phoenix where undocumented immigrants were held for weeks, said Sandy Raynor, a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman, in a Monday press release.

Padilla’s role in the operation included collecting and laundering hostage fees paid by the smuggled immigrants’ families, Raynor said.

In March 2009, Padia had a part in the operation of another Phoenix drop house where and extortion call to a victim’s family was made.

In September of that year, Padilla oversaw the operation at another house where she recruited guards and supplied weapons and ammunition to hold nine people hostage, Raynor said.

Padilla is the sixth person convicted and sentenced for participating in the smuggling conspiracy at drop houses. Her sentence of 16.5 years is the longest sentence that has been imposed to date, Raynor said.

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