Two Los Angeles men were sentenced to federal prison, Monday, after being found guilty for a kidnapping scheme involving migrants at the U.S./Mexico border.

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter sentenced Edgar Adrian Hernandez Lemus, 23, to 78 months in federal prison and Junior Almendarez Martinez, 23, to 24 months in federal prison.

Lemus was found guilty of one count of conspiracy and two counts of receiving money from a ransom demand in exchange for the release of a kidnapped person. With a lesser sentencing, Almendarez was found guilty of two counts of receiving money from a ransom demand in exchange for the release of a kidnapped person.

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 of 2021, collecting payments that ranged between $12,000 to $30,000.

Money would be collected from family members of the kidnapped migrants at multiple Walmart locations.

Trial evidence showed that when the ransom money was collected, Lemus and Martinez used Ubers to transport and eventually send the money to co-conspirators in Mexico through MoneyGram services. Kidnapped individuals were said to have be drugged and assaulted before being released to the families.

The two men were facing 11 and eight years in federal prison, but were not sentenced the maximum allowance.

LA Weekly