Three California men accused of kidnapping illegal immigrants for ransom

June 9, 2021

Law enforcement officials arrested three men allegedly involved in a crime ring that kidnapped at least six illegal immigrants near the Mexico border, whom they held for ransom and often refused to release after payments were made, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorneys Office has charged Edgar Adrian Lemus, 23, of Vernon; Francisco Javier Hernandez Martinez, 20, also of Vernon; and Junior Almendarez Martinez, 23, of Watts with one count of money laundering conspiracy each. All three suspects were arrested Monday evening.

The suspects allegedly targeted victims who were attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. The kidnappers offered to assist in smuggling the victims across the border, but instead held them for ransom.

Video evidence shows Lemus allegedly getting a $19,000 ransom payment on April 20 at a Walmart store in South Gate from the husband of a victim. But instead of releasing the woman, the kidnappers demanded an additional payment.

After the victim’s husband told the kidnappers he was in the streets begging for more money, they stopped calling him and released the woman on April 22.

Hernandez allegedly picked up a $15,000 ransom payment on May 26 at a Walmart in Paramount from the husband of another kidnapping victim. After the ransom payment was made, the kidnappers demanded an additional $16,000 because the victim purportedly broke a package believed to contain narcotics, the affidavit states.

The three suspects were spotted together on May 31 at a shopping center in Pico Rivera for the second ransom payment pickup.

Almendarez was also observed with Lemus and Hernandez after Lemus picked up a ransom payment at a Target store in South Gate, according to the criminal complaint.

If convicted, the defendants face maximum sentences of 20 years in federal prison.

The FBI investigated this matter with assistance from the South Gate Police Department and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.


Maybe they are safer at home where they came from….fix the immigration problem in the house and stop playing politics with peoples lives….tell Pelosi to get it moving…


tell them all to get it moving …

an interesting story of desperation


Dumb question, but how do all these suffering poor, illiterate, unskilled migrants looking for a better life picking crops in the U.S. come up with thousands of dollars at the drop of a hat?

Francesca Bolognini

Some have more privileged relatives who can be guilted into ponying up for relations.

The smugglers likely know who these people are (quick internet search) and hit on them..


I have the same question as they say the people coming here make $2.00 a day but pay thousands to the smugglers There are many Americans who couldn’t come up with this kind of money even if their life depended on it Confused


“suffering, poor, illiterate, unskilled”. wow, such compassion you have for your fellow humans. Why not throw in “rapist” and “murderer” in there for good measure? Instead of being outraged at these kidnappers exploiting desperate individuals, all you care is where the victims got their money from?

I’m not sure where you got the idea they come up with the money at “the drop of a hat” (surprised you didn’t say “drop of a sombrero”), but most of them save up over a long period of time and sell many of their possessions because the desperation of their current plight.


SLO-to-load I’m sure everyone is outraged at anyone treating other people badly but if they were arrested for extorting money from these people Bidens/Dems new policy would release them to continue with their crimes anyway. The point that i think everyone is having a hard time to grasp is if you have no money or possessions due to your economic state then how can you raise that much money to pay the smugglers at $2 a day it would take years and there are millions of AMERICAN LEGAL CITIZENS who fought for our freedoms that need help and we should help them first.