A federal judge sentenced three men in Laredo to lengthy prison sentences for kidnapping and extorting eight illegal aliens they smuggled into the U.S. Prosecutors accused the men of assaulting the Mexican nationals while holding them captive and then attempting to coerce additional smuggling fees from the families of their human cargo.
The smuggled aliens also alleged that they were forced to take their clothes off, were held against their will, and told to call their relatives and ask them to pay for ransom.
The human smugglers, 20-year-old Angel Alexis Diaz, 42-year-old Jose Israel Diaz and Julio Osorio, pleaded guilty last September to conspiracy to kidnap illegal aliens.
According to court documents, special agents with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations were notified about an alien smuggling incident on July 5, 2016.
Border Patrol agents assigned to the Laredo South Border Patrol Station assisted the Laredo Police Department at a residence in that border community. Officials found eight illegal aliens and three U.S. citizens inside the home. They transported one of the illegal aliens to the Laredo Medical Center. This individual initially identified himself at “Manuel Torres,” but was later determined to be Julio Osorio after fingerprints were taken.
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered Jose Diaz to serve a total of 360 months in federal prison. Alexis Diaz and Osorio were given sentences of 262 months and 292 months, respectively. They will have five years of supervised release.
One of the illegal aliens Guillermo Castillo-Enriquez told agents that he and four others entered the U.S. by illegally crossing the Rio Grande River near Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico on June 26. After crossing the river, smugglers took them to a house in Laredo where three men would not allow them to leave. According to court documents, the witness told authorities that on July 4 the three males “became angry, stripped all subjects of their clothing, tied their arms behind their backs, beat them with a blunt knife and threatened them with a gun.” Castillo-Enriquez said the men told him he would be killed if he did not get them $4,000 more dollars. Juan Iturbe-Pliego and Marcos Esteban Pacheco-Campoverde told officers the same and gave them the identical dollar figure.
That night, one of the illegal aliens began fighting with one of the smugglers over a knife. The smuggled illegal, and several of the others with him ran from the residence.
The other rescued aliens told similar stories of abuse and coercion.
Once rescued, officials held the eight Mexican nationals as material witnesses.