Cartel-Connected Smugglers Get Lengthy Prison Sentences for Kidnapping in Texas

by LUISANA MORENO 4 Oct 2022

Two cartel-connected human smugglers in Texas received lengthy prison sentences for kidnapping four migrants for days, threatening them with firearms, and demanding large ransoms from their loved ones.

Late last week, 27-year-old Jesus Ochoa and 29-year-old Luis Armando Garcia went before U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana in Laredo, Texas, where she handed down prison sentences of 15 and 16 years, respectively.

Both men pleaded guilty to kidnapping and holding the four victims for ransom.

The case began on November 19, 2020, when Ochoa and Garcia picked up four migrants who had just crossed into Laredo from Mexico. The men offered to drive the group to San Antonio in exchange for cash.

The driver then took the group to a house in Laredo and pretended to have arrived in San Antonio. There, they held the group hostage and demanded $4,000 from their relatives. The two men used firearms to threaten the migrants, took photographs, and forced them to record messages begging their relatives to pay money.

The kidnappers visited a local Walmart to receive their wired proceeds from the concerned relatives.

The relatives, scattered in multiple U.S. cities, reported the kidnapping to authorities. Police were able to trace the phones to a general location in Laredo. When Ochoa and Garcia saw police near the areas looking for the stash house, they panicked and took the migrants to an industrial park where they abandoned them.

Once there, the migrants were able to ask a trucker for a phone and called for help.

While court documents do not identify any involved Mexican cartel in the case, all human smuggling activity in the Laredo area is controlled by the Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas, based immediately across the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo.

Cartel-Connected Smugglers Get Lengthy Prison Sentences for Kidnapping in Texas (