LAREDO, Texas – Two men have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions of kidnapping and holding four victims for ransom, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Jesus Ochoa, 27, Laredo, pleaded guilty March 2, while Luis Armando Garcia, 29, a Mexican citizen illegally residing in Laredo, pleaded guilty Feb. 28.
Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana imposed a 186-month-term of imprisonment for Ochoa, while Garcia received 192 months. Garcia is expected to face removal proceedings following his sentence. At the hearing, the court heard from four victims who described what the two men put them through and the psychological impact the kidnapping had on them. In handing down the prison terms, Judge Saldana noted the violent nature of the offense and the defendants’ general lack of respect for the lives of others.
On Nov. 19, 2020, Ochoa and Garcia encountered four individuals who crossed the Rio Grande in Laredo and offered them a ride to San Antonio in exchange for payment.
They traveled to Garcia’s residence in Laredo, but actually told the group they were in San Antonio. They then forced all four individuals to call their family members and ask them to send $4,000 each for their release.
They held the group hostage at the residence for three days. During that time, they threatened each person with a firearm and repeatedly forced them to record videos and voice messages, make video calls, send text messages and call family members to beg for ransom money. On several occasions, Ochoa and Garcia directly spoke to the family members and told them if payment was not made, something would happen to the hostages.
Ultimately, family members contacted authorities who were able to obtain the general location from where the phone calls originated.
After noticing law enforcement, Ochoa and Garcia loaded the group back into a vehicle and transported them to an industrial park in Laredo. They dropped off the group and said they would return at a later time.
The victims were able to borrow a phone from a nearby truck driver and called for help. Authorities found all four individuals and transported them to safety.
Both will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Homeland Security Investigations and the Laredo Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Makens prosecuted the case.