McALLEN, Texas – A federal jury sitting in McAllen has returned a guilty verdict against Miguel Angel Navarro, 36, of Hidalgo, on two counts of conspiracy to commit and committing hostage taking, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The verdict was returned following a four-day trial and less than four hours of deliberation.
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, 21, of Pharr, and Herrera-Sanchez, 29, of Honduras, both pleaded guilty in the case prior to the commencement of this trial. 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.
At the inception of the case, the defense claimed Navarro was not involved in the offense. After the testimony of numerous government witnesses, the defense attempted to discredit the witnesses and claimed Trevino and Navarros's former wife lied during their testimony in exchange for favorable consideration in connection with their pending charges.
Ultimately, the jury did not believe him and found Navarro guilty as charged.
Navarro and the others have been and will remain in custody pending sentencing, which is set for April 10, 2014, at 09:00 a.m. before United States District Judge Randy Crane. All face up to life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
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 Attorney Linda Requénez and Grady J. Leupold.