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Los Zetas Kidnapers/Arms Traffickers Headed to Federal Prison

MAY 28 (LAREDO, Texas) - A total of five Laredoans have been ordered to prison for their roles in a kidnaping ordered by Los Zetas and executed by members and associates of the gang Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos (HPL), announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Efrain Garza, 33, and Ernesto Zaragoza-Solis, 31, were convicted of conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to use and discharge and using and discharging a weapon during a crime of violence. Today, U.S. District Court Judge Diana Saldana ordered Garza to serve a total of 447 months in federal prison, while Zaragoza-Solis will serve a 360-month-term. Also sentenced today was Nicolas Sanchez Reyes, 52, who was convicted of conspiracy to export firearms and Grace Diaz Martinez, 35, who admitted to being an accessory after the fact to attempt to kidnap. Reyes will serve 120 months in prison, while Martinez will serve a 48-month-term of imprisonment.

Pablo Cerda, 38, who was convicted of conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to use and discharge a weapon and conspiracy to export firearms, was sentenced Tuesday, May 26, 2015, to a total of 192 months in federal prison.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation El Chacal was an investigation spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which culminated in several indictments being returned in November 2011 in Laredo. In March 2012, a Laredo grand jury returned an indictment on charges relating to gun violations and kidnaping. The kidnaping was ordered by Los Zetas in retribution for a money load alleged to have been stolen by a subject who was supposed to deliver the drug proceeds to Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

On Sept. 14, 2010, approximately $2 million was delivered from Chicago to a warehouse in Laredo. The money was then stolen by someone who had picked it up from the warehouse and was supposed to transport it to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Co-conspirators located the subject who stole the money as well as three of the subject’s family members. They had planned to pick them all up and kill them if the money was not returned. 

On Sept. 19, 2010, at approximately 11:37 p.m., the Laredo Police Department received a 911 call indicating that a person had been kidnaped at gunpoint in the 1300 block of Eistetter Street in Laredo. A 14-year-old girl reported that her mother had been taken by force by several unknown subjects who had also fired shots during the kidnaping. She also stated that they tried to take her as well, but were unable to do so.

Through the investigation, law enforcement learned the victim had been taken to Garza’s residence. Garza and Martinez had arrived there in the early morning hours of Sept. 20, 2015, with the victim who was blindfolded and had her hands bound with duct tape. Zaragoza-Solis later showed up at the residence with weapons. The victim was kept in a back bedroom continually with her hands and eyes bound.

When law enforcement arrived, Martinez and Garza were trying to remove the blindfold and duct tape from the victim to avoid detection by the law enforcement agents at the door. Garza threatened the witness that she should say nothing to the police. When the police approached the residence, an unidentified individual opened the door and the kidnap victim immediately ran out of the house.

Arrested at the scene were Zaragoza-Soliz, Garza and Diaz-Martinez. Also found at the residence were three weapons to include a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver, a 7.62 caliber pistol and a Norinco 7.62 caliber rifle, Model Mak-90. Also recovered from the scene was the duct tape used to blindfold and bound the victim.

The case was investigated by DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Laredo Police Department and Webb County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Lou Castillo is prosecuting the case.

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