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Carrizo Springs pair indicted in smuggling scheme

Federal grand jury indicts 2 in scheme involving serious bodily injury

A federal grand jury indicted two Carrizo Springs residents for their roles in an undocumented immigrant smuggling scheme in which the victims suffered serious bodily injury, authorities announced Thursday.

The seven-count indictment returned Wednesday alleges that between May 1 and 4, Atanacio Daniel Castro, 32, and Eduardo Rocha Jr., 22, knowingly conspired to transport and harbor undocumented aliens, and while doing so caused serious bodily injury to those people, U.S. attorneys said.

The indictment further charges Castro and Rocha threatened to kill, injure or further detain people whom they held hostage in order to compel others to pay ransom money for their release, authorities said.

According to court records, Castro allegedly struck the hands of two adult male hostages with a hammer and demanded additional payment while the victims were on the phone with family members discussing payment of smuggling fees.

Court records also allege Castro on multiple occasions sexually assaulted a smuggled female undocumented alien, U.S. attorneys said.

Upon conviction, Castro and Rocha face up to life in federal prison for conspiracy to commit hostage taking. U.S. attorneys said each remaining charge calls for up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction.

Both remain in federal custody pending trial. Attorneys said no trial date has been scheduled.