FBI El Paso
Special Agent Jeanette Harper
(915) 832-5355
July 8, 2022

FBI El Paso, US Border Patrol, and the El Paso Police Department Rescue Victims Held in Another Kidnapping for Ransom Incident

EL PASO, TX— On June 7, the FBI El Paso Field Office’s Safe Streets and Violent Crime Task Force with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector, El Paso Police Department, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribal Police Department were able to rescue 23 undocumented immigrants who were being held against their will and threatened in a residential area in Northeast El Paso.

The victims were identified as citizens of Guatemala, Ecuador, and the United Mexican States.

Twenty-three-year-old Samuel Nuvila Briones and 54-year-old Salvador Ramirez Montes were taken into federal custody and processed into the El Paso County Detention facility.

Since February of this year, the FBI, the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), and our task force partners have rescued 88 victims from kidnapping for ransom incidents and continue to see an increase in extortion crimes directly affecting undocumented immigrants who have paid human smugglers to bring them across the United States-Mexico border.

Kidnapping extortion crimes exploit victims through threat and/or actual harm (physical or emotional), arrest, legal action, or other demands to force the victim into handing over money. These threats are aimed at the victim’s person or property or at their family and friends. Kidnapping for ransom is some of the most common extortion crimes investigated by the FBI El Paso Field Office.

“Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of these victims, not their immigration status,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey. “These victims endure so many frightening situations along their journey moving up towards the United States, only to find themselves being threatened with violence or become victims of violent acts. I would like to thank USBP, EPPD, and the Tigua Tribal Police for their assistance in this ongoing investigation.”

“Cruel Transnational Criminal Organizations keep extorting and holding migrants for ransom in our community,” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez. “Our strong alliance of law enforcement and community has played a vital role in disrupting these types of atrocities. No human being should endure or be victim to the vicious actions of human smugglers.”

Many undocumented immigrants are kept in stash houses located across El Paso. A stash house can be a house, shed, or any type of structure used to hide illegal activity from law enforcement. Stash houses are meant to blend in, so they can be found even in the middle of a city or gated community. Many of the non-residential structures used pose a direct threat to a person’s life in extreme heat and cold as they are not adequately ventilated, cooled, or heated.

If you have any questions about whether the call is a virtual kidnapping or a legitimate kidnapping, contact FBI El Paso at 915-832-5000 or call 911 immediately.

FBI El Paso is committed to working with our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners to increase public awareness regarding the threat posed by kidnappings and will continue to investigate and refer these types of cases for prosecution. Tips can also be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov. All tipsters may remain anonymous.

A federal complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.