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Press Release

El Paso Man Sentenced to Over 21 Years for Deadly Kidnapping in El Paso

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

EL PASO, Texas – An El Paso man was sentenced today to 262 months in prison for kidnapping resulting in death.

According to court documents, Armando Leonardo Moreno aka Cholo, 21, served as a soldier in a transnational criminal organization (TCO) and conspired with other TCO members on or around Sept. 13, 2021, to kidnap a subject from an El Paso stash house. The kidnappers drove the subject to another address, dragged him out of the vehicle and beat him in the front yard of the home before taking him inside and beating him further. On Sept. 16, 2021, the subject was found deceased in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with multiple gunshot and stab wounds.

Codefendants Michelle Karen Avila, Ruben Pimentel and Ricardo Matthew Gutierrez were previously sentenced. Avila was sentenced to 60 months in prison, Pimentel was sentenced to 108 months, and Gutierrez received a 135-month sentence. A fourth defendant, Alberto Rodriguez, remains in federal custody and is scheduled to be sentenced May 1.

U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas made the announcement.

Homeland Security Investigations, the El Paso Police Department, the New Mexico State Police, and the Texas Department of Public Safety investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Valenzuela and Ian Hanna prosecuted the case.

The indictments and convictions of these defendants are the result of the coordinated efforts of Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA). The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas is part of JTFA, which was established by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland created JTFA in June 2021 to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security to strengthen the Justice Department’s efforts to combat the rise in prolific and dangerous smuggling emanating from Central America and impacting our border communities. JTFA is comprised of detailees from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices along the southwest border, including the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas, the District of New Mexico, the District of Arizona, and the Southern District of California. Dedicated support is also provided by numerous components of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division that are part of JTFA, led by the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), and supported by the Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT), the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS), the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), the Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO), the Office of International Affairs (OIA), and the Violent Crime and Racketeering Section JTFA also relies on substantial law enforcement investment from DHS, FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other partners. To date, JTFA’s work has resulted in over 295 domestic and international arrests of leaders, organizers, and significant facilitators of human smuggling; over 230 U.S. convictions; 170+ significant jail sentences imposed; and forfeitures of substantial assets.


Updated April 24, 2024

Violent Crime