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.