SAN ANTONIO – Texas Rangers have arrested five men in San Antonio accused of kidnapping and organized crime.
Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino, 19, Jose Jared Soto-Victorino, 20, Lazaro Alfonso Estrada-Perez, 33, Fernando Espinoza-Rodaz, 26, and Lazaro Yonary Espinosa-Ramos, 18, are each charged with aggravated kidnapping and engaging in organized criminal activity.
The men are accused of kidnapping a teenage girl in a rival human smuggling operation.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the teen’s mom called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for help locating the 17-year-old girl who had been missing for a week.
The mom showed investigators videos she received over WhatsApp showing her daughter speaking in Spanish about human smuggling operations. One of the videos showed the girl being repeatedly beaten in the head by a man inside a vehicle. The mom told investigators she believed her daughter worked for a cartel.
Investigators were able to trace an internet IP address to 6631 Marcum Drive on the city’s West Side. Texas Rangers executed a warrant and after a short standoff, they found the teen inside the home, the affidavit states.
She told investigators she was kidnapped by a rival human smuggling organization on Dec. 8 from outside a trailer home near Military Drive by four men armed with handguns.
The teen said she had been very successful in the human smuggling business and indicated that there was a $40,000 bounty out for her, the affidavit stated.
She told investigators that after she was taken, she was held at a home at 5936 Fairbrook Drive on the city’s Southwest Side. At some point, she was able to escape the residence but was tackled as she was running away.
After that, she was taken to the home on Marcum Drive, she said.
She told investigators that Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino was the one “in charge” who kidnapped her.
After the teen was interviewed by law enforcement, she was returned to her mother’s custody.
During the search warrant to arrest Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino at the home on Fairbrook, investigators found four other men inside — Jose Jared Soto-Victorino, Estrada-Perez, Espinoza-Rodaz, and Espinosa-Ramos — all of who are in the United States illegally.
Investigators also found the teen’s phone, a handgun and $15,000 in cash in the home.
After his arrest, Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino told investigators that he kidnapped her because she smuggled his cousin into the United States and then returned him to Mexico after he failed to pay the full agreed-upon amount of money. Soto-Victorino said his cousin was then kidnapped by the teen’s boss in Mexico.
According to the affidavit, Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino told investigators that Espinoza-Rodaz was the one who beat the teen in the video.
He said they used the teen to set up another man, referred to as “El Chino.”
The men drove to Seguin and kidnapped “El Chino” from a gas station and brought him back to the house with the teen, the affidavit states.
Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino used videos of “El Chino” and the teen to get his cousin released from his kidnappers in Mexico. When they were successful, they released “El Chino,” Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino told investigators.
According to the affidavit, Juan Carlos Soto-Victorino was already a human smuggling suspect linked to multiple human smuggling events.
Aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony and engaging in criminal activity is a third-degree felony. The men are being held at the Bexar County Jail on a $100,000 bond, per charge.