Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 4:26 p.m.

Five members of a Bryan/College Station family pleaded guilty to smuggling undocumented immigrants from Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley to the interior of the United States.

The following suspects appeared in federal court in Laredo on Thursday where they all pleaded guilty to count one of a human smuggling indictment:

Porfirio Ortiz, 37,
Calixtro Ortiz, 52,
Bernardino Ortiz, 49,
Sandra Ortiz, 32,
Christopher Gene Torres, 24
An investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents revealed that the group had smuggled hundreds of undocumented immigrants in their organization's history.

The five face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine at their Nov. 20 sentencing.

Officials said the group's activities were discovered in January 2005 when a Ford F-250 hauling a horse trailer was inspected at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Hebbronville. Four undocumented immigrants and a baby were find behind hay bales.

The driver told investigators that he had made numerous trips transporting illegal aliens for the Ortiz family.

Calixtro Ortiz later admitted to serving as a guide for the immigrants and hand them over to a driver at a house in Rio Grande City.

Officials told Action 4 News that more than 40 U.S. Border Patrol and Highway Patrol immigrant smuggling cases have been linked to the Ortiz organization.