Five men in the Rio Grande Valley received prison sentences ranging from 16 to 30 years each for their roles in a human smuggling stash house kidnapping scheme. The men stole the human cargo from a stash house and then demanded the victims call family members to pay a ransom for their release. Two other previously deported illegal aliens also received sentences in the case.
The court convicted Luis Aguilar Jr., 19; brothers Alhan Sanchez, 20, and Aaron Sanchez, 21, and Ricardo Renteria, 26, all of Mission; and Renteria’s nephew Ricardo Renteria-Rivera, 23, an illegal alien from Mexico, earlier this year. U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez handed down stiff sentences to the men on September 5.
The judge told the courtroom that a strong message needed to be sent, according to information obtained from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. He then handed down a sentence of 350 months (nearly 30 years) to Aguilar. The judge ordered the Sanchez brothers to spend 324 and 195 months in prison.
Luis Aguilar, Sr. 64, and Jose Luis Rodriguez-Melshor, 30, pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the U.S. and to harboring an illegal alien. The judge sentenced the two criminal aliens to 97 and 105 months respectively. The three illegal aliens will be deported upon completion of their prison terms.
On May 2, 2016, the men carried out a home invasion against a stash house near Mission, Texas. After holding the caretaker of the stash house on the ground with a gun to his head, they demanded the illegal aliens in the house leave with them. They took the illegal aliens to a second location where they confiscated their cell phones and many of their possessions. They informed the aliens their previous transportation arrangements were no longer in effect and they would have to pay the group to continue their journey into the U.S.
Holding their hostages at gunpoint, the men demanded the aliens call family members and collect funds for a payment of $2,000 for their release. After receiving ransom, they released the human cargo to Rodriguez-Melchor to arrange their transportation northward. Instead, Rodriguez-Melchor sold them to the illegal alien, Renteria-Rivera. He received $200 each.
Renteria-Rivera then repeated the process and had the aliens call family members for more money. He threatened them with weapons if they attempted to flee. After receiving the ransom, he took the aliens to a parking lot where he instructed them to climb into the air dams of 18-wheelers. The illegal aliens turned themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents.