Criminal charges unsealed against 12 individuals in wide-ranging scheme to monopolize transmigrante industry and extort competitors near U.S.-Mexico border
McALLEN, Texas – Miguel Angel Navarro, Milton Leonel Trevino and Onan Herrera-Sanchez have been ordered to prison for their involvement in the hostage taking of a University of Texas-Pan American student, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Trevino, 21, of Pharr, and Herrera-Sanchez, 30, of Honduras, both pleaded guilty, while Navarro, 36, of Hidalgo, was convicted by a jury on both counts with which he was charged after a four-day trial and less than four hours of deliberation on Jan. 24, 2014.
Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who presided over the trial, handed Navarro a sentence of 408 months on one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking and 408 months for hostage taking, to be served concurrently. Herrera-Sanchez and Trevino received respective sentences of 240 and 120 months in federal prison. Navarro will be on supervised release for life following completion of his prison term, while Trevino will serve a four-year-term. As a non-U.S. citizen, Herrera-Sanchez is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.
At the hearing today, additional testimony was presented including the effect the crime had on the victim. During Navarro’s sentencing hearing, the victim explained that her health, confidence, concentration and grades in school, among other things, had been negatively impacted since the offense occurred. She further stated that no matter how much time the defendants spent in jail, it would never repair the damage that had been done to her and her family. She added that although outwardly she may appear normal, emotionally, she was no longer the same person. She also noted that Navarro had no remorse for what he had done.
Navarro was given the opportunity to allocate during the hearing, but initially remained silent. Judge Crane then informed him that the victim was in court and he could apologize if he wanted. Navarro responded by indicating he had nothing to say to her and that he put his faith in the appellate process.
In handing down Navarro’s sentence, Judge Crane took into consideration the defendant’s prior state conviction for criminal solicitation, among other conduct, and noted that he hoped the lengthy prison sentence would prevent Navarro from engaging in violent crime again and that it served as a deterrent to others.
The victim testified at trial and told the jury about the events that unfolded Sept. 25-26, 2012, during which she was forcibly taken from a University of Texas-Pan American parking lot and put in a vehicle occupied by Navarro as well as Milton Leonel Trevino and Onan Herrera-Sanchez. She was then taken to another location where she was transferred to a different vehicle and ultimately to the residence of Trevino, where she was held against her will.
Trevino testified for the government and admitted he and the others knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other to detain and make threats in order to compel another person to pay a sum of money as an explicit or implicit condition of the victim’s release. Trevino admitted he assisted in the actual abduction of the victim and he guarded her while they waited for the ransom money.
The victim’s father also testified and described to the jury about receiving the ransom calls, during which a demand for money was made in exchange for his daughter’s release. He further testified that during the calls, he was told that if the money was not paid, he would never see his daughter again.
Navarro's former wife testified that at his request she assisted in transporting the victim from one location to another. She further claimed she was unaware of the kidnapping at that time, but suspected the female was the victim of the university kidnapping once she was made aware of media news reports. She further admitted she spoke to Navarro during the early morning hours of Sept. 26, given her concerns of his involvement in the kidnapping. At that time, he told her, among other things, not to worry and that they were just trying to get money.
The victim was eventually released physically unharmed by Trevino.
The investigation was the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the University of Texas-Pan American Police Department with assistance from the Edinburg Police Department and Texas Rangers. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Linda Requénez and Grady J. Leupold.