Two L.A. men were found guilty of receiving ransom payments for kidnapped migrants crossing the border, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Edgar Adrian Hernandez Lemus and Junior Almendarez Martinez, both 23, were both guilty on two counts of receiving ransom money for the release of the kidnapped migrants. Lemus was guilty on an additional count of conspiracy.
The men were found to be part of a scheme where kidnappers offered to get prospective migrants across the U.S. and Mexico border safely, but would instead hold them for ransom.
Lemus and Martinez were believed to be involved from March 29 to June 1, collecting payments that ranged between $12,000 to $30,000.
Money would be collected from family members at multiple Walmart locations and at times, kidnapped persons were not released, instead being held for more money.
When money was collected, Lemus and Martinez used Ubers to transport and eventually send the money to co-conspirators in Mexico through MoneyGram services.
Trial evidence then showed that kidnapped individuals would be drugged and assaulted before being released to the families.
A co-conspirator was previously found guilty on one county of conspiracy, facing five years in federal prison, with his sentencing being scheduled for Nov. 29.
Lemus faces up to 11 years in federal prison and Martinez eight years, with their sentencing scheduled for January 10, 2022.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.