6 accused of leading a murderous kidnapping ring based in Mexico

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Six people were accused on Tuesday of leading a Mexico-based kidnapping ring that took nine people hostage and demanded ransom from their American relatives, but killed six, some after the payment money, officials said.

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted the alleged leader, Garcia Yera Hernandez, 37, of Germany, and five others with crimes, including extortion and conspiracy to commit hostage-taking. death, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

All six were being held in Mexico, where they faced additional charges, and it was not immediately clear whether they had lawyers to speak on their behalf.

The indictment alleges that from January to April of last year, the Tijuana-based gang took people for ransom in Mexico by luring them into meetings where they were held hostage under threat of a gun, tied up and sometimes severely beaten.

Family members in the United States were then called on to demand a ransom. Some who did not have family members able to pay were killed and some hostages were killed to protect the plot even after being ransomed, according to the statement by the US attorney’s office.

Six people were killed, including three US citizens, authorities said.

In one case, two people from the United States and Mexico were abducted after meeting one of the kidnappers at a Tijuana nightclub and being invited to a house, according to the indictment.

They were beaten and killed after the kidnappers learned they had no money, according to the indictment.

Another man was killed even though his adult son left a $ 25,000 ransom that was collected in the women’s restroom of a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, a San Diego neighborhood near the border, according to the indictment.

In another case, a US national living in Norwalk, a suburb of Los Angeles, was kidnapped while visiting a relative in Tijuana.

The victim “was forced to call his mother, say he was in trouble and ask her to call someone to pay $ 25,000 for his release. The victim’s mother struggled to get the ransom money but agreed to pay the hostage takers $ 1,000 and the man’s car for his release, according to the US prosecutor’s office.

But the man was killed the same day his mother met the ransom collector in Norwalk, according to the indictment.

If found guilty, the six defendants could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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