PHOENIX (Lawfuel) – Rufino Valdez-Lopez, 45, of Sinaloa, Mexico, was sentenced today to 20 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll. Valdez-Lopez was found guilty by a federal jury on October 9, 2007 of Conspiracy to Take Hostages, Hostage Taking, Conspiracy to Harbor Illegal Aliens, Harboring Illegal Aliens, and Possessing and Using a Firearm during, and in relation to, a crime of violence.
In April 2007, Valdez-Lopez, and five other co-defendants, worked for a criminal organization that held 76 illegal aliens hostage at a residence in Peoria, Arizona. Valdez-Lopez and his co-conspirators possessed and brandished a Romarm AK-47 Type Assault Rifle to intimidate and control the aliens. The aliens received very little food and were detained in three small bedrooms Valdez-Lopez consistently threatened the aliens and ensured that the aliens did not stand or speak in the bedrooms. One victim testified that he was held hostage for nearly 40 days in the house. By the time the victim was rescued by law enforcement, he was physically and mentally weak from the lack of food and unsanitary living conditions.
The investigation leading to the guilty verdict was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Peoria Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Raymond Woo and Lisa Jennis Settel, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.