Final Three Defendants Sentenced in Hostage Taking/Harboring Case
|Sept. 25, 2012|
McALLEN, Texas – The final three of 10 people involved in a hostage taking/alien harboring conspiracy have been ordered to federal prison, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Juan De Dios Cedillo-Narvaez, 31, Luis Fernando Cedillo-Narvaez, 44, Jose Luis Lopez-Villanueva, 28, all citizens of Mexico, were sentenced just moments ago by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane.
Juan Cedillo-Narvaez and Luis Cedillo-Narvaez previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit hostage taking and both received sentences of 180 months, while Lopez-Villanueva, who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, was ordered to serve 46 months imprisonment. Juan Cedillo-Narvaez and Luis Cedillo-Narvaez were further ordered to pay $9,194 in restitution.
Those sentenced today were indicted in October 2011 along with Martha Guadalupe Quiroga, 32, Pablo Zepeda-Lechuga, 47, and Balatazar Arcos-Torres, 36, also citizens of Mexico, as well as Jose Angel Lopez, 23, Ricardo Lopez, 19, and Osvaldo Ivan Rodriguez, 22, all of Mission, and Sarai Torres-Hernandez, 25, of Elsa.
Juan Cedillo-Narvaez and Jose Angel Lopez were identified as the leaders in the organization.
Jose Angel Lopez was convicted of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and was sentenced last week to 120 months in federal prison. As he was currently on supervised release for a similar conviction at the time of this offense, that term of release was revoked and he was sentenced to an additional 24 months in prison to be served consecutively for a total sentence of 144 months. Quiroga, Zepeda-Lechuga, Arcos-Torres, Ricardo Lopez, Rodriguez and Torres-Hernandez also previously entered pleas to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and were sentenced, respectively, to 24, 57, 41, 80, 70, and 30 months.
The case began on Sept. 21, 2011, when a relative of an illegal alien contacted authorities after receiving a call and demand for ransom the previous day. The investigation lead authorities to an area around Moorefield Road in Mission, Texas, where they began surveillance and subsequently discovered three males in the vicinity, two of whom were later apprehended - Juan Cedillo-Narvaez and Luis Cedillo-Narvaez. At that time, the cell phone that was used to make the ransom calls was found in the possession of Juan Cedillo-Narvaez who admitted that aliens were being held in a nearby apartment.
Investigators were given a consent to search the apartment by its renter, Quiroga, at which time agents discovered a total of 18 illegal aliens being held hostage, all from Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras. The victims stated they had been kidnapped from another location and forced to call their families and ask for money or they were going to be injured or something bad would happen to them.
Follow-up up investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Mission Police Department led to the identification and arrest of the remaining defendants.
The investigation was conducted by HSI and the Mission Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Patricia A. Rigney, Kristen Rees and Jimmy Leo prosecuted the case.