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Press Release

Another Hit with Significant Sentence in Hostage Taking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas – A 21-year-old Mission area man has been ordered to federal prison for his involvement in an illegal alien hostage taking scheme, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.


Juan Perez-Alcoser pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit hostage taking, joining Luis Aguilar Jr., 19; brothers Alhan Sanchez, 20, and Aaron Sanchez, 21, and Ricardo Renteria, 26, all of Mission; and Renteria’s nephew Ricardo Renteria-Rivera, 23, a Mexican citizen illegally present in the United States, who had previously pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit hostage taking change in the same case.  


Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Perez-Alcoser to 160 months in federal prison. At the hearing, Judge Alvarez noted that his behavior was slightly less culpable than the other defendants but that it was still a serious matter. “People were stolen like merchandise,” she noted. “You’re selling people to make money,” she added when comparing the criminal behavior to that of slavery.


On Sept. 5, 2017, the court ordered Aguilar to serve 350 months in federal prison, while brothers Alhan and Aaron Sanchez received 324 and 195 months, respectively. Renteria-Rivera was ordered to serve a 290-month-sentence, while his uncle will serve a sentence of 300 months imprisonment.


Aguilar Jr.’s father, Luis Aguilar, 64, and Jose Luis Rodriguez-Melchor, 30, both pleaded guilty to being an illegal alien unlawfully present in the United States after deportation and to harboring an illegal alien and were sentenced to 97 and 105 months, respectively. They and Renteria-Rivera are expected to face deportation proceedings following their release from prison, while the remaining defendants, including Perez-Alcoser, were further ordered to serve three years of supervised release following their release from prison.


The investigation revealed that a group of illegal aliens had been held at a stash house awaiting further transportation north. On the night of May 2, 2016, a home invasion crew that included an armed Aguilar Jr. came into the stash house and demanded the aliens leave with them. The caretaker of the stash house was on the ground with a gun to his head. The aliens were then taken to another location where their cell phones and most of their belongings were taken from them. 


Some of the undocumented aliens were taken to Aguilar Jr.’s residence which he shared with his father. While there, Aguilar Jr. told them that their initial smuggling arrangements were no good anymore and they had to make new arrangements with him. Aguilar Jr. held them at gunpoint and demanded the aliens give him the names and phone numbers of family members whom he then called to demand $2,000 for their release.


After receiving the money, Aguilar Jr. turned the aliens over to Rodriguez-Melchor to arrange smuggling the aliens further north. Instead, however, Rodriguez-Melchor sold the aliens to Renteria-Rivera for $200 each. Again, family members were called and told they must send additional monies  to secure their release. The Renterias carried weapons and threatened to shoot the aliens if anyone tried to escape. Perez-Alcoser was living at the Renteria residence during this time and watched over the aliens while the Renterias were not home, at times carrying a pistol or a rifle. Renteria helped pick up the money and then took the aliens to a parking lot in McAllen where they were supposed to sneak into the air dams of tractor-trailers. 


Instead of doing so, three of the aliens turned themselves in to Border Patrol. On May 18, 2016, authorities executed three search warrants. At that time, they seized firearms from the Aguilar, Sanchez and Renteria residences. All of the defendants were eventually located and arrested.


Perez-Alcoser has been in federal custody since his June 22, 2017, arrest and will remain in custody pending transfer to the Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. 


Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Border Patrol conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Leonard is prosecuting the case. 

Updated November 30, 2017

Violent Crime
Human Smuggling