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Press Release

Mexican Citizen Sentenced To 70 Years For Holding Illegal Aliens At Gun Point In Desert

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – On March 5, 2014, Isabel Perez-Arellanez, 43, of Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico, was sentenced by U.S. District Chief Judge Raner C. Collinsto 70 years imprisonment. Perez-Arellanez was found guilty by a federal jury on Nov. 21, 2013 of one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, three counts of hostage taking, four counts of possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and one count of illegal alien in possession of a firearm. 

This prosecution and sentence demonstrate that armed defendants who prey on vulnerable border crossers will be apprehended, and will face severe consequences for their actions,” said John S. Leonardo, U.S. Attorney. 

“This man thought he could use the rugged mountains of Southern Arizona as a place to conduct violent crimes out of reach of the rule of law. Thanks to the dedicated work of the U.S. Border Patrol agents who arrested him and the HSI special agents who investigated this case, he will now spend decades in a federal prison,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona. “Finding and bringing these modern-day bandits to justice is a top priority for HSI and our law enforcement partners.”

In March of 2012, Perez-Arellanez and two co-defendants encountered two Mexican nationals and one Guatemalan national who had become lost and separated from their smuggling groups in the remote Tumacacori Mountains, approximately 50 miles south of Tucson.  The defendant held the three victims at gun point for two to three days, forcing the victims to contact family members living in the United States to extort money from them.  Once the victims’ family members wired between $900 and $1500 to the defendants’ Western Union accounts in Mexico, the defendant abandoned the victims in the desert without food and water.  Eventually, the three victims made their way to Interstate 19 and reported the crime to Border Patrol who apprehended the defendants as they traveled southbound towards Mexico.  At the scene of the apprehension, agents found a loaded 9mm pistol and personal effects belonging to the victims. 

The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Border Patrol, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution was handled by Rui Wang and Matthew C. Cassell, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.

CASE NUMBER:           CR-12-1025-TUC-RCC
RELEASE NUMBER:   2014-014_ Perez-Arellanez

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit

Updated January 7, 2015