LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A half-dozen alleged members of a Tijuana, Mexico- based hostage-taking organization that allegedly kidnapped nine victims and murdered six of them -- including three U.S. citizens -- were charged today in Los Angeles.
A federal grand jury in downtown Los Angeles returned a five-count indictment charging all six defendants with one count each of conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to commit extortion, and extortion, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Three of the defendants face an additional count of hostage taking resulting in death and extortion.
All six are in custody in Mexico facing charges filed by authorities there.
If convicted of all charges in the United States, the defendants would face a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty, prosecutors noted.
According to the indictment, from January to April 2020, German Garcia Year Hernandez, 37, led the organization that extorted money from victims by taking hostages and holding for ransom U.S. and Mexican nationals with relatives in the United States.
The group generally lured victims into meetings under false pretenses and took them hostage, the indictment alleges.
The group held the victims at gunpoint, tied them up, and often brutally beat them, prosecutors allege. Members of the group then called victims' family members in the United States and demanded money and vehicles as ransom in return for the release of their loved ones, according to the indictment.
If victims did not have family members who could pay ransom, they were murdered, the indictment alleges.
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