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Press Release

Fourth Defendant Charged in Immigrant Kidnapping and Extortion Scheme Pleads Guilty

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

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that on October 12, 2018, PASCUAL RODRIGUEZ, 50, a citizen of the Dominican Republic last residing in New York, New York, pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to one count of kidnapping.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on multiple occasions, Rodriguez approached victims after they exited buses at the Port Authority in New York.  The victims included women, men and children from Central American countries who did not speak English and were seeking asylum in the U.S.  Rodriguez, sometimes posing as an immigration officer, falsely told the victims that their connecting bus was unavailable and asked the victims for a phone number of a family member in the U.S.  He then contacted family members and informed them that the victims could not travel by bus, and that he would arrange for the transportation of the victims in exchange for money.  He then brought the victims to his co-conspirator, Lucilo Cabrera, who then drove the victims around for hours, refusing to release them until their families agreed to pay money.

Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport on January 4, 2019, at which time Rodriguez faces a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

Rodriguez has been detained since his arrest on January 23, 2018.

On March 9, 2018, a federal jury in Bridgeport found Cabrera, Francisco Betancourt and Carlos Antonio Hernandez guilty of offenses related to this extortion and kidnapping scheme.  They also await sentencing.

This investigation has been conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vanessa Richards and Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss.

Updated October 15, 2018