Cartel members get prison for cross-border kidnap plot
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Three Mexican cartel members were Wednesday handed
sentences ranging from 7 1/2 to nearly 11 years for their roles in a scheme to
abduct drug dealers and spirit them south of the border for violent revenge
over unpaid debts.
U.S. District Judge William Hayes sentenced Carlos Alberto Andrade-De La
Cruz of Tijuana to 130 months in custody plus five years of supervised
release, and ordered San Diego residents Antonio Zermeno-Garcia and Luis Miguel
Salas-Rodriguez to each serve 92 months behind bars, plus five years of parole.
The judge said he believed that the defendants had every intention to
carry out their “cold-blooded” scheme.
According to sentencing documents, the defendants suspected other drug
dealers of stealing methamphetamine and plotted to kidnap them, take them to
Mexico and use violence to avenge the betrayal and collect on their debts.
The defendants were arrested in San Diego after the accused leader of
the plot, Andrade-De La Cruz, 36, illegally crossed into the United States and
met the others in front of the home of the first intended victim, according to
the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego.
The investigation began in March 2012, when the FBI Cross-Border
Violence Group learned of the alleged plot. In response to the intelligence,
the FBI sought and obtained judicial authorization to wiretap the telephone of
one of the suspects.
Based on the resulting intercepts, the FBI learned that a cartel
“enforcer” had been ordered either to extort money from the targeted San
Diego dealers or take luxury vehicles from them by force.
The wiretapped conversations revealed that as the defendants discussed
various plans to collect on the debt, defendant Andrade-De La Cruz gave a go-
ahead for Zermeno Garcia, 30, to kidnap one of the debtors.
Zermeno-Garcia told his conspirators that a debtor could be turned into
“pozole,” or soup — a term used by drug cartels to describe the results of
dissolving a human body in acid, according to prosecutors.
On March 14, 2012, the defendants allegedly put the kidnapping plan into
motion. Andrade-De La Cruz crossed into the United States from Mexico with
fraudulent documents and met up with Salas-Rodriguez, 26, and Zermeno-Garcia.
The FBI tracked the defendants to a location near the residence of the first
There, an FBI SWAT team immediately arrested the suspected conspirators.
Agents then located the intended victim, who told them he would have “ended
up in the trunk of a vehicle” if authorities had not intervened.