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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Three Men Plead Guilty to Human Smuggling Extortion Case

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Three men have pleaded guilty to offenses involving the transportation of an illegal alien for financial gain after driving a 17-year old girl from El Salvador within the United States and demanding additional money from her family for her release.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreements tied to the case, Daniel Lopez-Martinez, 32, of Mexico, Juan Tomas Nicolas, 23, of Guatemala, and Ernesto Solis, Jr., 29, of Mission, Texas, worked together to transport a 17-year old girl from El Salvador within the United States for money. Once she arrived in Houston, multiple calls were made by the defendants to the girl’s father located in Loudoun County. In the calls, the defendants demanded an additional $4,700. The defendants agreed to turn the girl over to the father only upon receipt and counting the money. The girl was rescued after FBI Agents and Task Force Officers in Houston interceded in the scheduled transfer of funds.

The defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Lopez-Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, while Nicolas is scheduled to be sentenced on August 11, and Solis Jr. on August 18. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Gregory C. Brown, Leesburg Chief of Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Cain is prosecuting the case.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office with assistance from the FBI’s Houston Field Office, the FBI’s McAllen Resident Agency, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court

Topic(s): 
Human Smuggling
Updated May 2, 2017