EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ A man who confessed to leading a band of high school students in a drug smuggling ring was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Ruben "El Tio" Delgado was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.

Delgado, 40, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to import and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

Prosecutors contended that Delgado was the man responsible for recruiting area high school students to smuggle loads of about 200 pounds of marijuana from Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, to Texas and then on to Oklahoma City.

The former students have also been convicted or pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.