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Fugitive Texan accused of heading human smuggling operation sentenced to life for kidnapping of 8-year-old girl

July 18, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Fugitive Texan accused of heading human smuggling operation sentenced to life for kidnapping of 8-year-old girl

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A fugitive Texan accused of heading a human smuggling operation was sentenced along with his two accomplices for their participation in the abduction of an 8-year-old who they threatened to cut off her fingers if her parents did not cough up the ransom money.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Luis Gerardo Betancourt, 21, the leader of the human smuggling operation, to life behind bars. Meanwhile, his two associates; 22-year-old Jonathan Carlos Valdez Harris and 25-year-old Luis Enrique Perez Talavera, each received ten and 20 years in prison, respectively.

Betancourt has remained on the lam since early 2017 when he went missing before trial after he was accidentally released from custody.

The judge presiding over the case convicted and sentenced him in absentia last week in a Texas Federal Court, Breitbart Texas reported.

Texas State Troopers took Valdez and Harris into custody in back  January 2016 after they were pulled over in the border city of Roma.

The two had just picked up a group of migrants seeking to cross the Rio Grande into the U.S. illegally. Both men subsequently entered a guilty plea to one charge of human smuggling and were later found guilty in connection with the kidnapping case.

The case was launched in November 2015, when a Mexican woman in Florida illegally planned for her 8-year-old to be smuggled into Texas.

The woman told investigators she started receiving calls demanding over $18,000 or they would murder the young girl. The suspects threatened to ut off body parts to pressure the deal.

FBI agents managed to trace the number and questioned Betancourt, who kept refusing that he had anything to do with the case.

However, federal prosecutors determined there was enough evidence to indict Betancourt.

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