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Smuggler sentenced in Kansas for human trafficking

WICHITA | A Mexican citizen caught transporting 16 illegal immigrants across Kansas has been sentenced to time served in a case with ties to a sting operation in Texas.

Joni Rivera-Rodriguez has been in custody since his arrest last November.

On Monday, he tearfully asked for forgiveness before U.S. District Judge Monti Belot pronounced the sentence and ordered him deported for human trafficking.

Rivera-Rodriguez said he only wanted to help his family.

Federal prosecutors accused him of transporting 16 illegal immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The case is connected to an immigration smuggling sting targeting Houston transportation businesses. That sting, dubbed Operation Night Moves, has led to 209 arrests since November.

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