Pharr Man Sentenced in Absentia for Hostage Taking Conspiracy
McAllen
   
 
More Today's News:
ߦ   Galveston officer charged with helping drug dealer avoid arrest
ߦ   TMPA's 2018 Annual Conference July 27-30: Registration is OPEN
ߦ   3 charged in slaying of ex-NFL player, second man in Detroit
ߦ   Aryan Brotherhood members among 23 arrested in Central Texas meth sting
ߦ   Burnet County Sheriff's Office - Inmate/Arrests Summary
ߦ   Coast Guard interdicts lancha crews illegally fishing US waters
ߦ   Former Police Officer Sentenced for Attempting to Support ISIS
ߦ   Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers-Robbery
ߦ   Galveston County Commissioners Court Meeting Agenda
ߦ   Graphic video released in violent Humble home invasion
ߦ   'He Never Went In': BSO Deputy Retires After Suspension For Failing to Respond to Parkland Shooting
ߦ   Houston Bank Robber Sought By FBI
ߦ   Jury gives man 30 years for murder of Houston rapper
ߦ   Justice Department Coordinates Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep of More Than 250 Defendants
ߦ   Man arrested in shooting death of postal worker on highway
ߦ   Man gets 50 years from jury for murdering pastor
ߦ   Mixed reaction after clemency granted for Sugar Land convict Bart Whitaker
ߦ   MS-13 gang member sentenced to 99 years
ߦ   Nearly 50 suspects charged in McLennan County Sheriff's Office prostitution sting
ߦ   Paris Police Dept - Daily Acitivity/Arrests Summary
ߦ   Parkland shooter always in trouble, never expelled. Could school system have done more?
ߦ   State House Blocks Law Protecting Police K9s Because It's Anti-Black
ߦ   Video shows NYPD officers fatally shooting knife-wielding man
ߦ   Westbound Lanes of I-10 to Close for Railroad Bridge Work
ߦ   2018 Great Texas Warrant Round-Up
ߦ   Attorney General Sessions Announces New Cybersecurity Task Force
ߦ   Austin County Deputy Honored At Retirement
ߦ   Corpus Christi Man in Custody on Multiple Sexual Exploitation Charges
ߦ   Criminal Complaint Filed Against Galveston County Judge
ߦ   Cynthia Barratt Named Child Advocate of the Year
ߦ   DPS Offers Increased Reward, Seeks Leads in 2005 LaSalle County Murder
ߦ   DPS Trooper shot while pursuing suspect
ߦ   Drunk driver threatens to strip and strangle Houston police officer
ߦ   Employee Stabbed In Galveston Tire Shop
ߦ   Fatal Shooting 500 Block of East 6th Street

   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  
© 1999-2018 The Police News. All rights reserved.