DONNA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Mission man has been convicted on multiple counts of hostage taking, smuggling and weapon charges after holding migrants at gunpoint, the U.S. attorney announced.
Heriberto Mendez-Lozano, 25, was found guilty by a jury Wednesday afternoon after a three-day trial.
On Sept. 29, 2022, Mendez-Lozano and others smuggled five undocumented migrants from the Rio Grande into the United States. Rather than transport the migrants further into the U.S., Mendez-Lozano and his co-conspirators held them against their will in Donna, authorities said.
“There, Mendez-Lozano and others brandished firearms, held guns to the heads and ribs of hostages, threatened the hostages and forced them to call family members to demand money for their release,” the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.
An investigation led law enforcement to Donna where they arrested Mendez-Lozano. At the time, he had a pending warrant out for his arrest for aggravated robbery, and a co-conspirator Lorenzo Campbell. Authorities also rescued the hostages from the scene.
Mendez-Lozano is set for sentencing on Jan. 17, 2024. At that time he faces life in federal prison.