The Premiere Website For Police News In Texas

          



 

Pharr Man Sentenced in Absentia for Hostage Taking Conspiracy
McAllen
   
 
More Today's News:
ߦ   IN REMEMBERANCE - Officer Elias Martinez
ߦ   Houston firefighter killed in tragic accident near Batson
ߦ   34th Annual National Night Out Festivities
ߦ   Assaults on Border Patrol Agents Up 15 Percent in August
ߦ   Auto Theft suspect damages Constable Patrol vehicle after being arrested
ߦ   Burglary Suspect Identity Sought
ߦ   Constable Mark Herman's Food Drive for Family Time Women's Shelter
ߦ   Filing deadline extended due to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey
ߦ   Final Defendant Sentenced in Meth Trafficking Conspiracy
ߦ   Former Canadian Mountie Sentenced to Money Laundering Charges Stemming from a Conspiracy to Smuggle Ivory Tusks
ߦ   Governor Abbott Extends Disaster Declaration For Texas Counties Impacted By Hurricane Harvey
ߦ   Gunman Sought In Home Invasion Armed Robbery
ߦ   Identity Thief Heads to Prison
ߦ   Laredo Woman Heads to Prison for Smuggling Drugs Through Port of Entry
ߦ   Man charged with hate crime attack on Lyft driver
ߦ   Man Sentenced to 90 Years for Producing Child Pornography Involving Multiple Victims
ߦ   Mother and Son’s Companies Bilked Medicare Out of Millions
ߦ   Operation Trena Sin Trono Sends Leader and Final Defendants to Prison
ߦ   Police Searching For Gas Station Shooter
ߦ   Public Health Emergency Weekly Report
ߦ   State Law Makes Sugar Land Streets Less Safe
ߦ   Juan Louis Peralez sentenced to 15 Years for Arson
ߦ   Officer involved shooting in La Porte
ߦ   Two FEMA Center Set Up In Galveston County
ߦ   Missing Galveston Woman Took Her Own Life
ߦ   Galveston Man Arrested for Shooting at Vehicles/Evading Arrest
ߦ   Hurricane Harvey FAQ
ߦ   Justice News Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, September 18, 2017 Third Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Assault Based on Victim’s Sexual Orientation
ߦ   La Porte Police Seek I.D. Of Burglar
ߦ   Montgomery County Couple Sentenced in Bankruptcy Fraud Conspiracy
ߦ   Robbery In Walmart Money Center
ߦ   St Louis Police Arrest Protesters and Start Their Own Chant Stating Their Authority
ߦ   Strip club raises over $2K for wounded deputies with topless carwash
ߦ   Video shows suicidal man stab cop 7 times during rescue attempt
ߦ   Why Did Georgia Police Shoot Dead Georgia Tech LGBT Student Leader?

   Next >>
 
Search Archives:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ANGELA DODGE 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2017 

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER 

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx

Pharr Man Sentenced in Absentia for Hostage Taking Conspiracy

McALLEN, Texas - A 21-year-old Pharr man has been sentenced to life in federal prison following his convictions of conspiracy to commit hostage taking and conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. A federal jury sitting in McAllen convicted Luis Gerardo Betancourt in absentia following a five-day trial and less than three hours of deliberation on March 30, 2017. Also sentenced today were 25-year-old Mexican citizen Luis Enrique Perez-Talavera and Jonathan Carlos Valdez-Harris, 22, of Phar, who had both previously pleaded guilty.


Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane ordered Betancourt to serve life in prison. Perez-Talavera and Valdez-Harris received respective sentences of 240 and 120 months in federal prison. Betancourt and Perez-Talavera were ordered to pay $26,000 in restitution, while Valdez is to pay $3,000. In handing down the sentence, the court noted how vulnerable one of the victims was, an eight-year-old child, and that the hostage taking conspirators exploited her age and vulnerability to pry additional ransom from family members.

The investigation began Dec. 4, 2015, when authorities learned of people in other states being forced to pay for the release of family members being held hostage at an undetermined location. Testimony at trial revealed that an individual had paid approximately $17,000 for such release. The jury heard that some family members received threats such as to cut off body parts and kill the hostages, one of whom was an eight-year-old victim, if monetary demands were not met. Further investigation revealed Betancourt's involvement in the conspiracy. The jury heard that he was responsible for recruiting and transporting co-conspirators as well as the receipt of money sent by the victims' family members.

The hostages held during the course of the conspiracy were eventually released Dec. 8, 2015.

Betancourt was present upon the jury's selection, but failed to appear for trial, presentation of the evidence and his sentencing hearing. He is considered a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the United States Marshals Service in McAllen, Texas at (956) 618-8025.

The FBI Safe Streets Task Force conducted the investigation with assistance from Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, police departments in Pharr and Robstown Police Department and the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Lindenmuth and Roberto Lopez Jr. are prosecuting the case.

Post a comment
Name/Nickname:
(required)
Email Address: (must be a valid address)
(will not be published or shared)
Comments: (plain text only)
Printer Friendly Format  Printer Friendly Format    Send to a Friend  Send to a Friend    RSS Feed  RSS Feed
  Facebook   Share link on Twitter Tweet  
© 1999-2017 The Police News. All rights reserved.