Cubans Sentenced For Taking Migrant Hostage


CaribWorldNewsm SARASOTA, FL, Tues. June 22, 2010: Two Cuban nationals have been jailed for hostage taking and transportation of undocumented migrants.

Erisbel Artiles, 31, and his mother, Lazara Z. Moreira-Penin, 54,  of Hialeah, Florida were recently sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bucklew. Erisbel will spend the next 121 months in federal prison for hostage taking while his mother was jailed for one year for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.

According to court records, on Sept. 2, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents assigned to the ICE Sarasota office received a request for assistance from MCSO on a human smuggling incident involving a hostage situation of an undocumented migrant from Guatemala.

A Guatemalan citizen illegally present in the United States contacted MCSO deputies and reported that a migrant smuggler was holding his 30-year-old brother, `Cesar` for an unpaid smuggling fee. 

The complainant and a third sibling had contracted with alien smugglers to transport Cesar from Guatemala to Florida. They paid smuggling fees first to a smuggler in Guatemala to transport Cesar illegally into the United States through Texas and then to Artiles to transport Cesar from Texas to Brandenton, Florida.

When Artiles arrived with Cesar in Manatee County to meet the complainant, Artiles demanded more money before he would release Cesar, the hostage victim. The complainant could not pay, and Artiles fled the scene without releasing Cesar. The complainant then called Artiles and told Artiles that he would pay the new fee, but Artiles raised the price again saying that he had to wire money to Moreira-Penin and that if the complainant could not pay, he would never see his brother again.

On Sept. 5, the Brandenton resident received a phone call from Moreira-Penin and another co-conspirator indicating they would be at the drop location later in the morning. Moreira-Penin eventually delivered Cesar at a gas station in Bradenton where ICE agents along with MCSO officers arrested her and recovered Cesar without incident. Artiles was arrested in Miami at a later date.


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