Hostage Taking Sends Three Men to Federal Prison
McALLEN, Texas ‐ Two Mexican nationals and a local resident have been handed significant sentences as a result of their convictions for conspiracy to commit hostage taking, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Julio Vargas-Hernandez, 39, and Gustavo Morales-Manriquez, 32, pleaded guilty April 17, 2014, while Osiris Bulos-Gonzalez, 23, entered his plea on Oct. 29, 2014.
Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced all three men to a sentence of 262 months in federal prison. Bulos-Gonzalez will serve a three-year-term of supervised release following his sentence, while Vargas-Hernandez and Morales-Manriquez are expected to face deportation proceedings following completion of their prison terms. The sentences today were enhanced as the court took into consideration the fact that a firearm was used and a ransom demand was made. The court further found that the victims, who were citizens of Mexico, were particularly susceptible to this type of offense and took that into consideration when handing down the sentences.
On Feb. 9, 2014, law enforcement received a 911 call from an illegal alien claiming he and a group of other undocumented aliens were being held against their will at a stash house in Pharr. Upon their rescue, these individuals told law enforcement they were kidnapped at gunpoint from a stash house by the defendants and taken to the stash house where they were made to call their families and request money to be paid for their release. They were threatened with death if the money was not paid.
All three defendants have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Border Patrol and Pharr Police Department. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Juan Villescas prosecuted the case. AUSA Leo J. Leo III handled the sentencing hearing today.