A U.S. court has convicted two men for their role in a human smuggling case that ended with the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants found in an abandoned tractor-trailer outside Houston, Texas.

Both men, Victor Jesus Rodriguez and Fredy Giovani Garcia-Tobar, face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Another man - the alleged driver of the vehicle - could face the death penalty if convicted. His trial begins next month.

They are among 14 people who were indicted for their role in a smuggling ring that crammed more than 70 illegal immigrants into the tractor-trailer and tried to take them to Houston from far south Texas in May 2003.

The trailer was later abandoned at a truck stop southwest of Houston. Seventeen immigrants were found dead inside the trailer, and two died later.

Some information provided by AP.