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04/22/2009

Chicago men sentenced for kidnapping and torture

Men were pursuing an unpaid drug debt

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Six Chicago men were sentenced to federal prison for using a firearm to threaten and beat a west Michigan man who they had kidnapped and tortured in order to recover an alleged drug debt. Adalfo Favela, Jesus Martinez, Jose Flores, Leonardo Orozco, Venancio Valencia-Vargas and Jonathan Eads traveled to Grand Rapids to collect the alleged debt, using a firearm to threaten and beat their victim.

“ICE is committed to the vigilant pursuit and ultimate prosecution of individuals involved with drugs and violence. These sentences are testament to that effort,” said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations for Michigan and Ohio. “We are determined to make our communities safer for everyone. We will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to realize this goal.”

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell sentenced Favela, Martinez and Orozco to nine years in prison; Flores and Valencia-Vargas to seven years in prison; and Eads to 21/2 years in prison. Additionally, the men will serve a period of supervised release after incarceration and were collectively ordered to pay the victim $3,320 in restitution for his injuries.

On April 22, 2008, the six defendants drove from Chicago to Michigan to collect an alleged drug debt from a Grand Rapids man. The next day, the defendants forcibly abducted the man from his home and took him to a nearby ranch, where he was repeatedly beaten, tortured and threatened.

After convincing the defendants to bring him back to his home under the guise that he had money hidden in his house, the victim escaped. ICE agents, along with local law enforcement officials, were able to apprehend Orozco and Valencia-Vargas before they fled the city. ICE agents arrested Eads, Martinez, Flores and Favela at a later date in Chicago. All four were eventually brought back to Michigan for prosecution.

U.S. Attorney Don Davis commended the collaborative efforts of ICE and the local and Chicago- area law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation and apprehension of these defendants, particularly the Howard City Police Department, Grand Rapids Police Department, Michigan State Police and the Central Michigan Enforcement Team.

Davis said, “Drug dealing and gun violence are both Department of Justice priorities and are being aggressively targeted by law enforcement efforts here in the Western District of Michigan. This prosecution reflects what this collaborative effort can accomplish.”