BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A convicted human smuggler will be spending 20-years in prison for having kidnapped a group of illegal immigrants for ransom, and for raping at least one woman that he had in his house.
This week, 24-year-old Reynaldo Lerma Pichardo appeared before U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera who handed down a 20-year-prison term on the charges of hostage taking and human smuggling.
Lerma Pichardo had pleaded guilty in October 2016 to some of the nearly a dozen counts of kidnapping and human smuggling federal officers filed against him. Lerma is believed to have led a human smuggling organization along with Leticia Lerma Pichardo, Juan Carlos Meza Hinojosa and Cynthia Yadira Deantes where the group used their homes as human stash houses.
The case began in November 2015 when Brownsville Police received a phone call about a group of illegal immigrants that were being held for ransom by human smugglers at a local apartment complex, court records obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed.
When responding to the call, authorities found Lerma Pichardo and his group holding nine illegal immigrants from Mexico against their will. The illegal immigrants were being held against their will until their relatives could pay a ransom.
According to information provided to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations were able to learn that Lerma Pichardo had sexually assaulted one of the women that he was holding for ransom at his apartment.