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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Two Men Who Kidnapped Philadelphia Teen to NJ Apartment Complex Both Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Eduardo Castelan-Prado, 39, of Leonia, NJ, and Jose Ochoa, 32, of Moreno Valley, CA, were both sentenced to 40 years in prison, and five years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III, for their convictions on kidnapping charges arising from the abduction of a teenage victim from Northeast Philadelphia to New Jersey in June 2021.

In June 2022, the defendants were convicted after trial of charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping in connection with their actions to kidnap a 17-year-old in the parking lot of a restaurant in Philadelphia, which was the teen’s place of employment, after his shift ended. Evidence presented at trial showed that on June 14, 2021, Castelan-Prado, Ochoa, and a third co-conspirator transported the victim to a residence in New Jersey, where they held him at gunpoint while making ransom demands of $500,000 to his parents. The FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department were able to determine the victim’s location by tracing the ransom calls, and in the early morning hours of June 16, 2021, an FBI SWAT team executed a search warrant at an apartment complex in Leonia, New Jersey, rescued the victim, and arrested the defendants.

“The events of this case are every parent’s worst nightmare: someone with ill intentions forcefully taking their child. These defendants kidnapped a teenager in an effort to extort money, a crime for which they have now been convicted and each sentenced to spend 40 years in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “As was the case here, our investigators and prosecutors will work quickly and tirelessly to identify, locate and charge anyone who attempts this type of violent crime in our district.”

“Ochoa and Castelan-Prado grabbed a teenage boy off the street to use as a human bargaining chip,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “They sought to extort his parents, demanding half a million dollars for their child’s survival and safe return. Fortunately, this despicable ploy for money was disrupted and the victim recovered by the FBI and our partners. Today’s sentences ensure the men behind this violent crime will be held accountable for what they’ve done and prevented from so terrorizing anyone else’s family.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The case was investigated by the FBI Philadelphia and FBI Newark, and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Justin Oshana and Kate Shulman.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Contact: 
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA 615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250 Philadelphia, PA 19106 JENNIFER CRANDALL Media Contact 215-861-8300 Follow @USAO_EDPA on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information about big cases and community news.
Updated October 19, 2022