McALLEN, Texas — A Texas-based human smuggler working for a Mexican cartel threatened to sever the fingers and ears of an 8-year-old girl to extort her parents. The smuggler is currently on the run; he was convicted in absentia.
Court records obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed that 20-year-old Luis Gerardo Betancourt was originally arrested in December 2015 on multiple kidnapping conspiracies and human smuggling conspiracy charges. Betancourt was later released on bond until his trial date last week. While Betancourt had been making his appearances as required by the court, on the day of the trial, he went missing.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the case was tried in absentia. After his conviction, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane set Betancourt’s sentencing for June where the man faces possible life in prison if he is found.
The case began on November 30, 2015, when a Mexican woman living in Florida illegally arranged for her 8-year-old daughter to be smuggled into Texas. Soon after, the woman began receiving phone calls demanding more than $18,000 or they would kill the young girl. The cartel threatened to sever body parts to pressure the mother.
FBI agents traced the phone number and interviewed Betancourt, who kept denying his role in the case. The criminal indictment revealed he lied to authorities during the investigation. A superseding indictment points to other individuals being named as co-conspirators in addition to drug trafficking.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.