Two teens convicted earlier this month of trying to collect ransom money during a kidnapping scheme that involved a Fort Worth Home Depot store were convicted Monday in federal court of more charges in the case.
US. District Judge Reed O'Connor convicted Albert Gonzalez, 18, and Nygul Anderson, 19, of one count of conspiring to possess extortion proceeds and one count of attempted money-laundering.
On March 2, O'Connor convicted each teen on one count of conspiracy to use an interstate facility to commit a travel act violation, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
The two — along with Fernando Cabrera, 21, and a 17-year-old — were arrested in October after someone contacted a North Richland Hills man, demanding money and threatening to kill the man's brother in Mexico if they didn't get the cash. The caller told the victim he worked with Mexican police and the Jalisco cartel.
Cabrera was in communication with a source in Mexico believed to be part of the Jalisco cartel, a federal official said Tuesday. The cartel is the newest of the most powerful cartels in Mexico, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. The cartel formed around 2010 after breaking off from Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa cartel.
Gonzalez and Anderson face up to 30 years in prison and a $750,000 fine and are scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.
Cabrera, who has pleaded guilty in the case, is scheduled to be sentenced April 9. Information was not available on the 17-year-old.
A North Richland Hills man in September reported to authorities receiving threatening phone calls from Mexico, according to federal court documents. The man told authorities the caller demanded money and said he would kill the man's brothers if he did not get it.
The caller later reduced the demands from $300,000 to $40,000 and finally to $20,000, federal agents said.
The North Richland Hills man agreed to pay the money and left it by a dumpster at a 7-Eleven store in north Fort Worth, near Interstate 35W and Heritage Parkway. The victim later received a phone call informing him of his brothers' location in Mexico. Relatives found the brothers tied up in a motel room.
Days later, the North Richland Hills man received another call from the same person, who demanded $100,00 "or else they would kidnap [the victim's] brothers again and kill them," according to court documents.
The caller gave an Oct. 13 deadline.
The victim agreed and the drop-off this time would be at the Home Depot off I-35W and Basswood Boulevard in north Fort Worth.
On Oct. 13, as FBI agents monitored the location, the North Richland Hills man dropped off the money near the store. The juvenile exited a red Chevrolet Camaro to pick up the cash, according to court documents.
FBI agents rushed in and arrested the juvenile along with Anderson, Gonzalez and Caberra, who were in the Camaro.
Anderson told agents they were getting the money for Caberra's uncle, according to court documents.