85-year-old migrant smuggler gets 2 years prison

                                    

Related Content

  • The home of Felicitas Gurrola de Mason is seen Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, in Chula Vista, Calif. Gurrola, 84, will be sentenced on Thursday after she pleaded guilty to charges that she directed a smuggling organization that guided migrants across the heavily fortified U.S.-Mexico border by giving them imposter IDs to present to immigration authorities at the crossing in San Ysidro, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    The home of Felicitas Gurrola de Mason is seen Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, in Chula 

SAN DIEGO (AP) An 85-year-old woman who led a female-dominated immigrant smuggling ring was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Thursday in a case that stands out at a time when larger, more violent organizations along the U.S.-Mexico border have muscled groups like hers aside.

Felicitas Gurrola was charged with moving up to 80 people a month past border inspectors at America's busiest border crossing in San Diego by having them assume false identities. Her method was relatively safe compared to common and sometimes fatal smugglers' tacks like leading groups through remote mountains and deserts or stuffing them in car trunks and engine compartments.

"This was a very well-organized, safely run operation," said her attorney, Thomas Matthews. "No one was ever put in danger."