Additional charges and defendants have been added to a federal case arising from the abduction of a boy from his Las Vegas home in October 2008.
Jose Lopez-Buelna, aka "Miguel," 48; Jesus Gastelum, aka "Jose," 35; and Erik Dushawn Webster, 44; all of Las Vegas, were each charged today in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, specifically to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
Lopez-Buelna was also charged with conspiracy to launder money; conspiracy to commit kidnapping; kidnapping; conspiracy to commit hostage taking; hostage taking; and two counts of money laundering-promotion.
Gastelum was also charged with conspiracy to launder money; conspiracy to commit kidnapping; kidnapping; conspiracy to commit hostage taking; hostage taking; two counts of money laundering-promotion; and money laundering-monetary transaction.
Webster was also charged with conspiracy to launder money and money laundering-promotion, and Luis Vega-Rubio, aka "Bear," 36, of Las Vegas, was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping; kidnapping; conspiracy to commit hostage taking; and hostage taking.
The previous indictment in the case, returned on March 17, 2009, charged only Lopez-Buelna and Vega-Rubio with conspiracy to kidnap a child.
The superseding indictment alleges that Lopez-Buelna and Gastelum provided money to individuals to purchase motor homes in the United States to transport cocaine and money between Mexico, the United States and Canada. The superseding indictment alleges the motor homes were modified after purchase with hidden lead-lined compartments to conceal cocaine and money from law enforcement.
According to the superseding indictment, Webster and other unindicted co-conspirators – including Clemens Tinnemeyer – agreed to drive the motor homes to various locations, including Nevada, California, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Canada and Mexico. Lopez-Buelna and Gastelum allegedly paid Tinnemeyer between $17,000 and $25,000 per trip to drive a motor home across the United States to Mexico and Canada, and allegedly provided Tinnemeyer additional money for side trips, expenses and motor home repairs.
The superseding indictment alleges that Tinnemeyer made several trips in the motor home between Mexico and different cities in the United States, and that in or about June 2008, Tinnemeyer allegedly drove a motor home to Atlanta, New York and Chicago, when he discovered approximately $4.5 million in a hidden compartment.
Tinnemeyer allegedly stole the $4.5 million, and Lopez-Buelna and others started searching for them. According to the superseding indictment, they hired private investigators, visited relatives and offered Tinnemeyer’s friends and associates money. In July, Vega-Rubio allegedly delivered a threatening note to Tinnemeyer’s daughter in Las Vegas telling Tinnemeyer to contact them.
According to the superseding indictment, approximately three months later, on Oct. 15, 2008, Tinnemeyer’s young grandson was abducted from Tinnemeyer’s daughter’s home in Las Vegas by an unknown number of persons. The boy allegedly was held hostage by unknown individuals on the orders of Lopez-Buelna, Gastelum and Vega-Rubio for approximately three days to compel Tinnemeyer to come out of hiding and to contact them. The boy allegedly was held at more than one location and was transported between locations in a suitcase.
The boy was released on Oct. 18, 2009, after law enforcement submitted photographs of Lopez-Buelna to the media as a person of interest in the abduction, as well as information that Tinnemeyer had been arrested and that a substantial amount of cash had been recovered.
If convicted of the drug conspiracy charge, the defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $4 million fine. The kidnapping charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. The money laundering charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The superseding indictment also alleges that the defendants shall forfeit all property derived from the proceeds of the offenses, including more than $3.9 million in cash, numerous vehicles, a boat and two semi-automatic pistols.
All of the defendants, except Jesus Gastelum, who is a fugitive, are in federal custody pending trial. Arraignments for Lopez-Buelna, Webster and Vega-Rubio are set for July 10, 2009, at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy A. Leen.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation.
The initial complaints and indictment were handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen Bliss and Nicholas Dickinson. The superseding indictment and prosecution are being handled by Trial Attorneys Marty Woelfle and Margaret Honrath of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.