Laredo residents sent to prison for extortion scheme
LAREDO, Texas – Two individuals have been ordered to federal prison for aiding and abetting in the transmission of messages threatening to extort money from another, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Hector Jose Lopez, 31, pleaded guilty Sept. 29, 2021, while Nancy Yvette Garcia, 33, admitted to the charges Oct. 14, 2021.
Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo imposed a 96-month term of imprisonment for Lopez, while Garcia received 188 months. Garcia, also currently on supervised release for a 2018 conviction for conspiracy to transport aliens, received an additional four months which will be served concurrently to the current offense. Both must also serve three years of supervised release following their sentences. In handing down the prison terms, Judge Marmolejo noted that Lopez should make better choices if he wanted to live in the free world, further stating that he had no respect for the law or humanity.
On Jan. 26, 2021, a marijuana deal involving a 16-year-old male had gone awry. Shortly thereafter, Garcia and another individual took him to Lopez’s apartment. Garcia claimed they needed to keep him hostage in order to get their marijuana or money back. Lopez held him there in exchange for $500.
At the time of his plea, Lopez admitted he asked the victim for some of his login information stored on his phone which he then sent to Garcia via WhatsApp.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 27, 2021, someone posted photographs to the victim’s Facebook account showing visible injuries and referencing what happens to people who steal. The mother of the victim then received a message on Facebook Messenger accusing her son of stealing marijuana.
Shortly thereafter, she received a phone call from a Mexican phone number demanding $30,000 for the release of her son. Throughout the course of the day, the mother received text messages or phone calls asking about the status of the ransom and was told her son would be killed if the demand wasn’t met.
On Jan. 28, 2021, the victim managed to escape and contacted law enforcement.
Lopez and Garcia will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The FBI conducted the investigation with assistance from the Laredo Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Bajew prosecuted the case.