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Press Release

Six Men Sentenced To Lengthy Terms For Abducting 19-Year-Old College Student

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

Leader Gets Nearly 23 years

McALLEN, Texas – Six Mexican Nationals convicted of hostage taking and conspiracy to commit hostage taking of a college student have been sentenced to significant federal prison terms, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who accepted all the guilty pleas, sentenced Roman Rivera-Guillen, 33, Jose Molina, 24, Alfonso Ivan Villasana, 20, Israel Flores Jr., 21, Julio Cesar Fernandez, 25, and Bernardino Sanchez, 23, for their roles in the hostage taking. The court noted that Rivera-Guillen was a leader in the conspiracy and sentenced him to 270 months in federal prison, while Molina, Villasana, Flores, Fernandez and Sanchez, received respective terms of 210, 144, 210, 234 and 210 months imprisonment. As non-U.S. citizens, all are expected to face deportation proceedings upon their release from prison.

According to the record of the case, on Nov. 7, 2012, officers with the McAllen Police Department (MPD) responded to a kidnapping at an apartment in McAllen. The complainant informed the officers that his 19-year-old son had been kidnapped from the apartment at which time they found signs indicating the front door of the apartment had been kicked in.

Family members of the victim received a ransom demand of $700,000 for the safe return of the victim or else he would be injured. The investigation led to the arrest and apprehension of all five individuals who admitted to taking the victim from his apartment at gunpoint. However, the men no longer had the victim and had handed him over to another individual. The victim was released, unharmed, on Nov. 8, 2012.

After hearing the arguments from both the government and defense counsel in federal court today, Judge Crane handed down the prison terms for each man for seizing, detaining and threatening to kill, injure and continuing to detain the victim in order to compel his family to pay a sum of money as an explicit condition for his release. The court took into account the extent of each defendant’s involvement in the hostage taking, noting that Rivera-Guillen was the leader of the criminal venture.

All six men have been held without bond and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The case was investigated by the FBI and FBI Safe Street Task Force with assistance from MPD. Assistant United States Attorneys Leo J. Leo III and Kristen Rees are prosecuting the case.

Updated April 30, 2015