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Transnational Gangs

6 alleged kidnapping conspirators of 13-year-old girl now in federal custody

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Tuesday the arrest of two additional people on conspiracy and kidnapping charges for a total of six arrests.

Ernesto Sanchez-Benjamin, 30, and Jean E. Colon Aleman, 20, were arrested by ICE agents on Monday for their alleged participation in the kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl near Parcelas Hills Brother in Bayamon.

On Dec. 4, Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) requested ICE's assistance following the Dec. 2 kidnapping.

ICE and PRPD approached the residence where they suspected the girl was being held prisoner by her kidnappers. They noticed a young female matching the description of the kidnapped girl; however, her face was covered with what appeared to be duct tape.

Officers rescued the victim and arrested a man who was also in the house.

The man was later identified as Joan Martinez Jimenez, 21, a national of the Dominican Republic. He was remanded to ICE custody for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping.

On Dec. 5, a second man, Ismael Reyes Sierra, 24, was arrested in connection with the kidnapping followed by Kevin Bonilla Alvarado, 24, who was arrested by ICE agents on Dec. 10.

On Dec. 11, the fourth alleged conspirator, Hilario Morel, 19, was nabbed by ICE agents for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping.

"The allegations against these men are very serious and, if convicted, they can face a sentence of life in prison," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in San Juan. "ICE special agents, with the assistance of PRPD, and in record time, arrested six individuals allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a minor. We are committed to the safety of the most vulnerable segment of our society - our children."

A total of three vehicles and evidence has been seized in connection with the kidnapping and transportation of the victim.

All six defendants remain in federal custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting bond hearings and/or criminal proceedings.