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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Utah

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Avalos Sentenced To 108 Months In Federal Prison After Pleading Guilty To Kidnapping Juvenile

Kidnapping Part of Attempt to Collect Drug Debt From His Mother

SALT LAKE CITY – An associate of drug traffickers, who assisted two others in kidnapping a 17-year-old boy from his mother’s Utah business in August 2018 while trying to collect a heroin-related drug debt, will spend 108 months in federal prison.

Nadia Carolina Avalos, 34, of Phoenix, was sentenced Tuesday morning by U.S. District Judge David Sam. Avalos will serve 36 months of supervised release when she finishes her prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal criminal justice system.

Two other defendants in the case have also pleaded guilty to kidnapping.  Issa Jassim Al-Sadoon, 28, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty to kidnapping in March and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison and 36 months of supervised release on July 8, 2020.  Juan Carlos Moreno Trinidad, 43, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty to kidnapping in July.  Sentencing for Moreno Trinidad is Oct. 13, 2020. His plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of 144 months in federal prison, subject to Court approval.

“Organized crime is active in Utah. As the United States Attorney for Utah, I have made it a top priority to confront and dismantle criminal organizations. This case is a glaring example of why we must keep law enforcement pressure on drug traffickers who are drawn to our neighborhoods by an unhealthy demand for illicit drugs. A fugitive leader in a narcotics trafficking organization, operating from south of the border, directed a ransom kidnapping in an otherwise safe Utah neighborhood. As Utahns, this is something we simply cannot tolerate,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.

“As we learned in court, Ms. Avalos’s problems with the law stem from illicit drugs, which often lends itself to criminal behavior and violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel of the Salt Lake City FBI.  “Cases like this underscore the larger issues associated with the drug trade, which is why the FBI and our partner task forces are committed to investigating activity that afflicts our communities.”

“Because of the cooperation between the FBI, Salt Lake Police Department, West Valley Police Department and the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, a 17-year-old victim of kidnapping was safely recovered and returned to his family. Members of a drug trafficking organization, responsible for this violent act, were apprehended due to the hard work and effort of each detective, officer, and agent involved in this case. We are thankful that victim is safe and that we had a part in this outcome. We will continue our efforts to pursue other drug traffickers operating in Utah,” Lt. Jeff Bailey, Director of the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, said today.

As a part of her plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Avalos admitted that she came with others to Utah in August 2018 to collect a drug debt owed to Oscar Rene Chacon Lopez, aka Gio, another defendant in the case, from a woman in West Valley City.  According to a complaint filed in the case, the defendants conducted surveillance on a business in West Valley City, operated by the woman.  After they were not successful in collecting the money from the woman, Chacon, calling from Mexico, directed them to kidnap the woman’s 17-year-old son. 

According to documents filed in court, the victim was kidnapped at gunpoint by Moreno Trinidad and Al-Sadoon. Avalos, assisted by Al-Sadoon and Moreno Trinidad, kept the 17-year-old son at a hotel room in Murray while Chacon attempted to collect the drug debt from his mother.

The victim called his mother and told her he had been taken by individuals who wanted money from her.  She also received a short video of the inside of her truck demonstrating the kidnappers had also stolen her truck.  In the following hours, Chacon sent numerous typed text messages and recorded voice messages. He threatened her son and other children at her home with physical violence. Chacon made it clear he directed the kidnappers in Utah and that her son would be released only after he was paid at least $10,000, according to a complaint filed in the case.           

FBI agents, Utah County Major Crime Task Force detectives, and West Valley City police officers were able to locate the juvenile victim later that evening at a Salt Lake County hotel room and return the juvenile unharmed to his home. 

Another defendant in the case, Jeanette Mejia, 27, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty to a Felony Information in March 2020 charging her with conspiracy to distribute heroin.  She faces a sentence of between 12 and 36 months when she is sentenced Oct. 13, 2020.

Chacon, 29, a citizen of Honduras, remains a fugitive.              

This case is a part of an investigation the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force and the FBI in Salt Lake City started in early 2018 targeting a drug trafficking organization distributing primarily heroin.  The investigation revealed that Chacon managed and directed the activities of multiple co-conspirators in Utah, Arizona, and Minnesota.  In addition to this case, four other criminal cases were filed in Utah as a result of the investigation.  Several kilograms of heroin and several cash seizures have been made in connection with these prosecutions. The West Valley City and Salt Lake City police departments have assisted with the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City and a Deputy Utah County Attorney, designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, are prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated August 5, 2020