Kidnapping. Murder. Money laundering. Extortion. These are just some of the charges a southern California couple could be facing after authorities claim they uncovered an elaborate scheme that crossed the border into Mexico. The two accused are now facing felony charges and could possibly face life in prison.
Leslie Matla, 20 years old, and her boyfriend, Juan Carlos Montoya Sanchez, are accused of kidnapping three residents from the San Diego area who had traveled to Mexico on business or to see family on three separate occasions in late March and through April. The victims were held in a hotel room in Tijuana while Matla and Sanchez allegedly contacted their families and demanded ransoms be delivered to various locations in southern California.
Two of the victims were later found dead in Mexico a day after their families were contacted about the ransom. One family had paid the ransom and dropped it off at McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, but the other man's family failed to pay the ransom. The third man was rescued from the Tijuana hotel on the same day his family tried to pay his ransom. Mexican authorities arrested nine suspects at the hotel in connection with this scheme.
Officials reviewed border crossing records and security camera footage and identified Matla as the woman who retrieved the ransom money at the drop-off locations. Matla and Sanchez were arrested in San Diego, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Central California statement.
Federal Crimes Are Serious Issues in California
For now, Matla and Sanchez have been charged with one count each of money laundering conspiracy, but as the investigation continues, they could face more charges, such as kidnapping. Money laundering is a federal crime, and if convicted, they would both be facing a statutory maximum life in prison sentence.
Federal crimes are investigated by the FBI, which is notorious for conducting extensive and complicated investigations. Given the fact that parts of these alleged crimes may have occurred across the border means that Mexican authorities will be involved as well, which will even further complicate the investigation.
At Sigal Law Group, we believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty. While we don't know all the facts or circumstances involving this case, the accused in this case could have been extorted into participating in these activities against their will.
If you are facing a federal charge, you probably feel quite hopeless and confused. The first step you should take is to contact a seasoned L.A. criminal defense attorney to consult with you about your case. Attorney Vitaly Sigal has over ten years defending his clients' rights and he will work tirelessly for you from investigating your case to preparing you for trial if your case does make it to trial. Call the Sigal Law Group today at 818-325-0570 or fill out an online contact form.