Two Southern California men were found guilty Monday of collecting ransom payments from the families of victims kidnapped near the US-Mexico border, prosecutors said.
Edgar Lemus, 23, and Junior Martinez, 23, conspired with a group of kidnappers south of the border who targeted victims attempting to cross into the US, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
The kidnappers told the victims they would help smuggle them into America, but instead held them for ransom, prosecutors said.
From the end of March to June, prosecutors said Lemus and Martinez met relatives of the victims at stores in Southern California to collect cash payments ranging from $12,000 to $30,000.
The defendants would then transfer some of the dough to co-conspirators in Mexico.
After the payments were made, the victims were assaulted, drugged and released, prosecutors said.
Lemus was convicted of one count of conspiracy and two counts of receiving money from a ransom demand for the release of a kidnapped person.
Martinez was convicted of two counts of receiving money from a ransom demand for the release of a kidnapped person.
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