Mexican national Cristian Ortiz Coronado, 31, was arraigned Thursday on a six-count indictment charging him with kidnapping, hostage taking, and transporting illegal immigrants, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced in a news release.
Coronado was indicted on Nov. 9 by a federal grand jury in Fresno.
According to court documents, Ortiz Coronado was hired to be a “coyote” and deliver a family to Fresno after they illegally crossed the border from Mexico in August. When Ortiz Coronado picked the family up — including a mother, her 4-year-old daughter, and her 9-year-old son — he locked the doors and wouldn’t let them leave the vehicle.
Demanded a $21,000 Ransom: Prosecutors
Prosecutors say that Ortiz Coronado then demanded an additional $21,000 from relatives before he would release the family in Fresno
When relatives didn’t hand over the ransom and tried to block Ortiz Coronado from driving away, he allegedly rammed a relative’s vehicle and the children’s father. Then he sped off with the mother and son, leaving the 4-year-old behind.
Fresno police tracked down Ortiz Coronado and arrested him on Aug. 25. He remains in jail on a federal marshall hold after Fresno County Judge John F. Vogt denied him bail.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Fresno Police Department, the FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Stokman and Robert Veneman-Hughes are the prosecutors.
If convicted, Ortiz Coronado faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $3 million fine.