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Press Release

Deceased female leads to hostage taking investigation and subsequent sentence

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

VICTORIA, Texas – A 32-year-old non-U.S. citizen illegally residing in Houston has been sent to prison for conspiracy commit hostage taking, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Urbino Garcia-Bahena pleaded guilty Aug. 22, 2022.   

Today, Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey ordered Garcia-Bahena to serve 151 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence of how he and his co-conspirators operated the stash house in Houston using threats, intimidation and starvation to hold people there.

The investigation began when authorities found a young woman discarded and deceased on the side of the road in Victoria County. In a search for those responsible for her death, law enforcement learned of Garcia-Bahena and his co-conspirators. They were holding and mistreating another undocumented person who they had illegally transported into the country.

The man’s family had already paid $10,000. However, Garcia-Bahena and others were demanding and additional $3,500 for the victim’s release.

The investigation revealed the group had discarded the young woman after she died in their care. Law enforcement had rescued the second victim after he had been held for five days without food and been mistreated.

Garcia-Bahena has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Victoria Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation along with the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patti Hubert Booth prosecuted the case.

Updated April 3, 2023

Human Smuggling