Four indicted in El Centro after smuggled Mexican man held captive

File Photo – Illegal immigrants smuggled in the trunk of a car are apprehended at the border.


Victim was kept part of the time in a padlocked shed in Brawley

EL CENTRO — Four people have been indicted in a scheme to kidnap a Mexican citizen who had been smuggled into the country, holding him captive part of the time in a padlocked shed, federal officials said Tuesday.

The defendants were identified as Jose Duarte, 37, and Kandra Telford, 34, both of Prescott Valley, Ariz; John Vincent Bellino II, 41, of Phoenix; and Raul H. Perez, 42, of Brawley.

They were named in an indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court in El Centro, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego said in a statement.

According to the indictment, on Nov. 15, the victim was being held in a locked shed in Brawley when he heard some of the defendants talking about killing him because he was unable to pay their $5,000 smuggling fee. He used a cellphone to call 911.

Police traced the call and were able to free him after hearing yelling and banging noises coming from the shed and prying the door open.

According to a search warrant, the victim told police he had been smuggled into the United States from Mexico on Nov. 8, after which he said the smugglers took money and a car from his daughter.

He said he was beaten at a motel and then taken to the shed.

According to court records, all four defendants conspired to make ransom demands to the victim’s family.

They were all indicted on counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit hostage-taking.

Duarte and Telford also are charged with transportation of illegal aliens. All remain in custody.