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Man gets 10 years for trying to hold migrants for ransom

Citizen Staff

Citizen Staff Report


A Mexican man will serve 10 years in a U.S. prison for his role in trying to hold illegal immigrants for ransom, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Francisco Verdugo-Fernandez, 28, and co-defendants Andres Torres-Castro, 21; Jesus Manuel Palma-Soto, 19; Eduardo Loriel Soto, 25; and Jesus Ernesto Solis-Torres, 17, all of Sinaloa, Mexico, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit hostage taking.

Verdugo-Fernandez was sentenced here Monday. The other defendants are scheduled for sentencing later this month, said Sandy Raynor, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors say the defendants stopped a group of 23 illegal immigrants at gunpoint near Three Points on March 30, robbed them and told them they would be taken to a nearby mobile home where they were to contact family members to pay ransom for their release.

One member of the group escaped and contacted police.

A conviction for conspiracy to commit hostage taking carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $250,000 fine or both, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Depending on their criminal history, the co-defendants will be sentenced to 108 to 135 months imprisonment, according to the plea agreement.

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