El Paso County Man Sentenced to 11+ Years in Federal Prison for Hostage Taking Conspiracy

El Paso County Man Sentenced to 11+ Years in Federal Prison for Hostage Taking Conspiracy

In a federal court in El Paso, a San Elizario man, Luis Lorenzo Salas, 25, has been sentenced to 140 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit hostage taking. Court documents reveal that Salas operated a stash house where a human smuggling victim from Mexico was being held.

Salas created a disturbing video in which he appeared masked and pointed a rifle at the victim. A screenshot from this video was sent to the victim’s family, accompanied by threatening messages demanding a $10,000 payment. The threats included the removal of the victim’s ears and fingers if the ransom was not paid.

Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents, after receiving the information, located and rescued the victim, along with eight other noncitizens. Fortunately, all individuals were found unharmed. Salas was arrested on April 17, 2023, and later pleaded guilty on August 29, 2023, to one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking.

U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas expressed the gravity of Salas’s actions, stating, “This defendant caused severe, lasting damage that will haunt his smuggling victims and their families for the rest of their lives.” He also thanked HSI for their efforts, ensuring the safety of the victims and removing another smuggler from operation for the next decade.

Acting Special Agent in Charge Jason T. Stevens for the HSI El Paso Division emphasized the accountability of those involved in human smuggling, stating, “Human smugglers who exploit people for their personal gain and further use threats and violence to collect a ransom will be held accountable, as this sentence makes clear.” Stevens highlighted the threat human smuggling poses to national security and the vulnerability of those placed in harm’s way.

The investigation into this case was conducted by HSI.