FBI Reunites Children with Mother After Eighteen Months in Captivity
SAN JOSE - Two children, both United States citizens, were reunited with their mother, a Mexican national, after spending more than eighteen months in captivity in Mexico, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson announced.
On December 19, 2012, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against three Mexican nationals, Jesus Salinas and Patricia Delatorre, of Mount Vernon, Washington, and Maria Guadalupe Valenzuela Castaneda, of Juarez, Mexico. According to the indictment, in June, 2011, Salinas and Delatorre agreed, in exchange for money, to transport the children from Mexico, where the children were living at the time, to Washington State, where the mother of the children was living. Rather than return the children to the United States, however, in July, 2011, Salinas and Delatorre transported the children to Castaneda, in Juarez, Mexico. The conspirators then demanded more money from the mother for the return of the children. For months, the mother sent payments to the conspirators, but the children were never returned. The conspirators also threatened to kill the mother if she contacted law enforcement or if she went to Juarez in search of the children.
On December 11, 2012, the FBI, together with Mexican law enforcement, located the children in Juarez, Mexico, in the custody of Castaneda and placed the children into the temporary care of Mexican social services.
On Friday, March 1, 2013, the children, through the work of the FBI, the Watsonville Police Department, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the United States Department of State, were repatriated from Mexico to the United States, and reunited with their mother in San Jose, California.
“I commend the work of the FBI, local law enforcement, and the Mexican authorities. Because of their hard work and collaboration, a family was reunited this weekend.”
“The FBI worked closely with our law enforcement partners in California, Washington, Texas and Mexico to safely recover these children from their kidnappers and reunite them with their mother,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnson. “We will continue to actively pursue and bring to justice those individuals who kidnap children and extort family members for money. These crimes take a terrible toll on the victims and we will hold the perpetrators accountable.”
The indictment charges the defendants with one count of kidnapping minor victims in interstate and foreign commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1201(a)(1), (c) and (g)(1); and two counts of unlawful seizure and detention of a United States national, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1203(a). The statutory penalty for the count of kidnapping a minor victim is a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty (20) years imprisonment, and a maximum term of up to life, and a maximum fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of unlawful seizure and detention of a U.S. national is life imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
On January 4, 2013, Salinas and Delatorre were arrested by the FBI in Mount Vernon, Washington, and were ordered detained by Honorable Brian A. Tsuchida, in Seattle, Washington. On January 28, 2013, Salinas and Delatorre made their initial appearances before Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose, California, where the defendants were arraigned, and ordered detained pending trial. The matter is assigned to Judge Edward J. Davila for trial purposes. The next scheduled appearance is March 11, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. for further status. Salinas and Delatorre remain in custody.
An arrest warrant was issued for Maria Guadalupe Valenzuela Castaneda. Anyone with information about her whereabouts should contact the FBI at (408) 369-8000 (San Jose field office), or (915) 832-5000 (El Paso, Texas field office).
AUSA Daniel Kaleba is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of the investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Watsonville Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection, and the United States Department of State.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, the defendants must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.