Two 19-year-old men caught in a kidnapping plot were sentenced to a federal prison on Monday.
Nygul Anderson and Albert Gonzalez drew sentences of three years and two-and-a-half years, respectively, from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor. O’Connor convicted Anderson and Gonzalez after a one-day bench trial in March on conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Co-conspirator Fernando Cabrera pleaded guilty in December 2017 and was sentenced in April 2018 to a year and two months in federal prison.
An investigation into the activities of the suspects began after Sept. 22, when a North Richland Hills man told authorities he had received threatening phone calls from Mexico, according to court documents. The man reported to police that the caller demanded money and said he would kill the man’s two brothers if he did not get it, a federal complaint stated.
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The caller later decreased his money demands from $300,000 to $40,000 and finally to $20,000, the complaint said.
When the victim agreed to pay, the caller told him to leave the money by a dumpster at a 7-Eleven store in north Fort Worth, near Interstate 35W and Heritage Trace Parkway.
The victim dropped off the money and then received another call telling him about his brothers’ location. Relatives in Mexico found the brothers tied up in a motel room.
On Sept. 29, the victim received another call from the same man, who demanded an additional $100,000 “or else they would kidnap [the victim’s] brothers again and kill them,” the complaint said.
The caller told the victim that he worked with the Mexican police and the Jalisco cartel. The caller gave him an Oct. 13 deadline to make another ransom drop, the court documents said.
The victim agreed but refused to leave the Fort Worth area to deliver the money. The caller said he could drop off the money at the Home Depot off I-35W and Basswood Boulevard, the complaint said.
When the victim arrived about 4:30 p.m. Oct. 13, FBI agents were waiting outside the store, monitoring the drop. After the victim dropped off the cash, the agents saw a juvenile get out of a red Chevrolet Camaro to pick up the money, the complaint said.
The agents arrested the juvenile, along with Cabrera, Anderson and Gonzalez, who were also in the Camaro.
Cabrera said he did not know that the money was part of an extortion scheme, but he admitted that he and the other three men had gone to retrieve “illicit funds.”
Anderson told agents that the men were getting the money for Cabrera’s uncle, the complaint said.
Other suspects with alleged ties to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel were arrested in North Texas about the same time this arrest occurred.
In September, eight suspects linked to the drug-trafficking organization were arrested in Dallas on federal drug charges, accused of trafficking methamphetamine and other drugs from a “superlab” and selling them out of a used car dealership.
The Jalisco New Generation is the newest of the most powerful cartels in Mexico, according to the DEA. The cartel formed around 2010 after breaking off from Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel.
This story includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.