Human smuggler found guilty for role in holding 31 illegal immigrants hostage
Posted - 4/19/2010 at 2:17PM

TUCSON - Paulino Rios-Ledesma, 41, of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, has been found guilty by a federal jury for his role in holding 31 people hostage at a drop house in Tucson last year.

Following a four-day trial, the jury found Rios-Ledesma guilty on 10 counts of Conspiracy to Commit Hostage Taking, Hostage Taking; Using, Carrying and Brandishing a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence; Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Illegal Immigrants, Harboring Illegal Immigrants, and Possession of a Firearm by an Illegal Immigrant. He will be on June 28, 2010.

On March 31, 2009, Tucson Police Department officers responded to a report that 30 to 40 illegal immigrants were being held hostage at a suspected drop house in the 800 block of W. Valencia by individuals with an AK-47 assault rifle.

The officers detained those inside the house and observed an assault rifle with two taped magazines in plain view. The individuals inside the drop house stated they had been at the residence between four and 15 days, and when they arrived, their property, identification, shoes and belts were taken from them by the "coyotes." They all indicated that the original smuggling fee of $1,000 - $1,500 was raised to $2,800 - $3,300 per person. The illegal immigrants were held at the house by use of force and fear and were not to be released until their family members were able to pay the increased smuggling fee.

Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recovered several items in the house, including a MAK-90 assault rifle, a 9-mm FEG pistol, two rifle and one pistol magazines, a knife, one set of handcuffs and several cell phones. Some of the weapons were loaded with ammunition. Agents detained a total of 36 individuals in the stash house and determined that 31 of the individuals were illegal immigrants being held against their will. Agents determined that the other five individuals, Victor Sauceda-Parra, Jaime Figueroa-Lopez, Martin Chavarrin-Serrano, and Jesus Manuel Quinones-Camacho, all co-defendants, were responsible for holding the immigrants hostage and were caretakers of the drop house.

On August 27, 2009, co-conspirator Victor Sauceda-Parra was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Frank R. Zapata. Co-conspirator Jaime Figueroa-Lopez, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison the same day by U.S. District Judge Frank R. Zapata. Both pleaded guilty to Hostage Taking and Brandishing a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence. Jesus Manuel Quinones-Camacho is pending sentencing before U.S. District Judge Frank R. Zapata.