News and Press Releases

Last of Five involved in Hostage Taking Sentenced to Federal Prison

July 13, 2011

McALLEN, Texas – Hugo Oscar Rodriguez-Montoya, previously convicted of the hostage taking of 10 aliens has been sentenced to prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. 

Rodriguez-Montoya, 37, of Tamaulipas, Mexico was sentenced this morning to 140 months by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane for his role in the hostage taking. He has also been ordered to serve a three-year period of supervised release. Rodriguez-Montoya entered a plea of guilty in December 2010.

According to the record of the case, on May 10, 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents were notified that Mario Leon-Villa, of Guanajuato, Mexico, had shot himself during a botched alien smuggling attempt. At that time, agents interviewed a smuggled alien who had escaped from Leon-Villa and others. The smuggled alien told agents he had made arrangements to be smuggled into the United States. During the early hours of May 10, 2010, his smuggler placed him and at least nine other aliens, including one child, in a truck. He went on to state that before they could leave their location, Freddy Bermudez-Benito, of Guanajuato, Mexico, and another unidentified male assaulted their driver at gunpoint and took them and the truck to a house in Penitas, Texas. They were all told that they needed to pay $2000 as a condition for their release. The smuggled alien and several others managed to escape their captors who were all armed. It was at this time that Leon-Villa accidentally shot himself while threatening the remaining aliens. During the course of the investigation, federal agents were able to locate the remaining smuggled aliens in a stash house in Edinburg, Texas. The aliens were able to identify Rodriguez-Montoya as one of the stash house guards and Bermudez-Benito as the one who made some of the extortionate phone calls to their family members.

Bermudez-Benito, 28, Leon-Villa, 21, Juan Alberto Jimenez, 25, and Jose Rocha Pinon, 25, all previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 240, 168, 140, and 108 months, respectively, on June 27, 2011.

Rodriguez-Montoya has been in federal custody since his arrest and will remain in custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons prison to be designated in the near future where he will serve out his sentence.

This investigation leading to the charges conducted by HSI with the assistance of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Leo J. Leo III and Kristen Rees prosecuted the case.

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