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Press Release

Immigrant Smuggler Indicted For Kidnapping Persons Seeking To Enter The United States, And Defrauding Their Relatives In The United States

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

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment today against Martin Carranza-Sanchez, 45, resident of Mexico, charging him with kidnapping Mexican citizens seeking assistance in entering the United States without documentation, and with a scheme to defraud the families of persons seeking to enter the country, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Carranza-Sanchez is charged with conspiracy to commit hostage taking, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, interstate communications to obtain ransom or reward, and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. He was arrested at the border on January 21, 2016, and currently is in federal custody in Fresno, based on a complaint previously issued in this case.

The indictment alleges that Carranza-Sanchez and others conspired to obtain payment from people residing in the United States through various means, including by taking hostage their undocumented immigrant family members and friends who were seeking entry into the United States, and by falsely representing to the U.S. residents that their relatives had been smuggled into the United States. In five instances between December 2010 and November 2015, involving six victims, the indictment alleges that Carranza-Sanchez held the undocumented immigrants hostage in Mexico, threatened to harm them, and, on occasion, did harm them. He allegedly told the U.S. residents that he would harm or kill the immigrants if the U.S. residents did not pay him immediately.  Carranza-Sanchez also is charged with fraud for falsely representing to U.S. residents that he would release the undocumented immigrants and deliver them to the United States upon receipt of payment by the U.S. residents.

“Kidnapping and fraud are serious federal crimes, regardless of the legal status of the victims in this country,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “The abuse and exploitation of undocumented immigrants is unacceptable, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute those who engage in such criminal conduct.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorney Angela L. Scott  is prosecuting the case.  The investigation is ongoing.

Carranza-Sanchez is currently detained in the Eastern District of California. If convicted, Carranza-Sanchez faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 3, 2016

Human Smuggling