U.S. Department of Justice|
Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California
United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs|
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947
Los Angeles, CA - A man convicted of stealing illegal aliens from a human smuggling ring and holding those aliens for ransom has received one of the longest sentences ever imposed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles related to human smuggling.
Felipe Mendoza-Granados, 32, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins to 40 years in prison.
Mendoza was one of five Mexican nationals convicted on federal hostage-taking and weapons charges in connection with an incident last year where the men abducted several illegal aliens from a human smuggling organization. The smugglers were beaten and were threatening with a gun and baseball bats.
According to court documents and evidence presented at Mendoza's trial, the men sent a confederate to Mexico, where he posed as someone who wanted to be smuggled into the United States. After arriving in Los Angeles with other illegal aliens, the man contacted his associates, ostensibly to pay his smuggling fee.
On February 11, 2004, Mendoza and his accomplices confronted the original smugglers in a supermarket parking lot. Brandishing a handgun and baseball bats, the men abducted three aliens, stole the smugglers' van, and forced the smugglers to drive to their drop house. At the house, the men beat the remaining alien smugglers, and then abducted the other illegal aliens. The hostages were driven to a new location where they were held for two days while being threatened with death or harm unless their relatives paid the balance of their smuggling fees.
The scheme ended February 13, 2004 when the California Highway Patrol stopped the stolen van and discovered two of the kidnappers and one illegal alien. Following their arrests, several of the defendants admitted that the gang had been involved in as many as 30 similar incidents. The other four defendants in the case are scheduled to be sentenced over the next six weeks.
The case was investigated by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Release No. 05-119
Return to the 2005 Press Release Index
Return to the Home Page