Washington Couple Admit Role In Scheme To Extort Money From Mother While Holding Her Children
Defendants Promised to Transport Children Across U.S.-Mexico Border, Instead Hid Children In Juarez For 18 Months While Demanding Money From Mother
SAN JOSE—Patricia Delatorre and Jesus Salinas pleaded guilty in federal court in San Jose yesterday to conspiracy to commit extortion for their role in a scheme involving the transportation of two minor children across the U.S.-Mexico border, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge Dave Johnson.
In pleading guilty, Delatorre and Salinas admitted that between June 2011 and December 2012, they knowingly participated in executing a scheme to extort money from a woman who had asked Salinas for assistance in bringing her minor U.S. citizen children to the United States from Mexico. After Salinas picked up the children in Mexico in July 2011, and after the mother had paid him approximately $1,800, he did not bring the children to the United States as he had promised. After a failed border crossing, Salinas instead brought the children to the residence of Delatorre’s mother, Maria Guadalupe Valenzuela Castaneda, in Juarez, Mexico. Salinas and Delatorre refused to tell the children’s mother the precise address where her children were located. The children resided in Juarez for many months, during which time the mother was permitted periodic contact with the children. For months, the mother sent payments to Delatorre, Salinas, and Valenzuela Castaneda, but the children were never returned. Salinas and Delatorre told the mother on numerous occasions that she owed additional money to them, and she needed to pay the money before the children could be returned to her. Delatorre also threatened to report the mother to immigration authorities as an illegal alien if she stopped making payments.
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. In March 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 California.
Delatorre, 28, and Salinas, 35, both of Mount Vernon, Washington, were indicted by a federal Grand Jury on December 19, 2012. Each pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Delatorre and Salinas were both ordered detained in a prior pretrial hearing and are in custody pending sentencing. An arrest warrant remains pending for Maria Guadalupe Valenzuela Castaneda.
The sentencing hearing for both Delatorre and Salinas is scheduled for October 5, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. before the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Court Judge, in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 is five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution as determined by the Court. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Jeff Nedrow, Jeff Schenk, and Daniel Kaleba are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Susan Kreider, Laurie Worthen, and Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI, the Watsonville Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection, and the United States Department of State.