EL PASO, Texas -- Seven illegal aliens were charged in two separate indictments returned by a federal grand jury in El Paso, Texas. The indictments arose out of a kidnapping in El Paso and a murder in Juarez following the seizure of almost 700 pounds of marijuana in August 2009.
The suspects arrested were: Rafael Vega, Cesar Obregon-Reyes, Omar Obregon-Ortiz, age 21; Joey Albert Ashley, of El Paso; Manuel Hernandez, of El Paso; David Vasquez Pena, of El Paso; and, David Octavio Calleros, of El Paso.
One indictment charges Ashley, Hernandez, Pena and Calleros with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The charges stem from the Aug. 5, 2009, seizure of 670 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a tractor-trailer rig driven by Ashley and Hernandez. Border Patrol agents made the seizure at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint. It is alleged that Pena and Calleros were responsible for loading the marijuana into the tractor-trailer rig in El Paso.
A separate, but related indictment charges Vega, Obregon-Reyes, and Obregon-Ortiz with kidnapping; conspiracy to kidnap, kill or maim in a foreign country; use of an interstate communication facility in commission of murder for hire; and, interstate and foreign travel in aid of racketeering.
Vega is also charged in this indictment with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.
These charges stem from the September 3, 2009, kidnapping of Sergio Saucedo from his home in Horizon City, Texas. The kidnapers took Saucedo to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where he was murdered and mutilated in retaliation for the loss of the marijuana load seized at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint.
“These indictments demonstrate the continuing commitment of federal and local law enforcement officials in working together to combat the drug trafficking cartels. The charges of kidnapping and murder should send the clear message that such violence will not be tolerated in the United States. We will aggressively prosecute all provable acts of violence committed within our jurisdiction, and those engaged in such acts will be severely punished,” stated U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy.
Upon conviction, Vega, Cesar Obregon and Omar Obregon could be sentenced to life in federal prison; if they are convicted of the kidnapping or murder for hire, the law provides that they shall be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Ashley, Hernandez, Pena and Calleros face between five and 40 years in prison if convicted.
This case was investigated by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Border Patrol, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department.