Friday, December 3, 2021

3 Men Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison For Kidnapping And Torturing Government Informant


 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that EDWARD HERNANDEZ was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 10 years in prison for his role in kidnapping and torturing a Government informant.  WALKIN FRANCISCO ARIAS VILLAR and JOSIEL GUSTAVO MARTINEZ GUZMAN were each sentenced, on September 16, 2021, and September 22, 2021, respectively, to 10 years in prison for their roles in the offense.  HERNANDEZ and ARIAS VILLAR pled guilty on April 6, 2021, and MARTINEZ GUZMAN pled guilty on March 23, 2021, before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty, who also imposed the sentences.  

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Edward Hernandez now joins his codefendants in being sentenced to spend a decade in federal prison for his admitted role in the brutal and violent kidnapping, torture, and extortion of their victim.  This case illustrates yet again how violence goes hand in hand with the illegal drug trade.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court proceedings: 

ARIAS VILLAR and MARTINEZ GUZMAN forced a Government informant (the “Victim”) into their car after the Victim – who was acting at the direction of law enforcement – arrived at a meeting in the Bronx, purportedly to retrieve $178,000 in narcotics proceeds to be laundered.  HERNANDEZ, who was driving, sped away after the Victim was forced into the car. 

MARTINEZ GUZMAN and ARIAS VILLAR physically assaulted the Victim in an effort to extort the Victim into transferring money to their co-conspirators.  MARTINEZ GUZMAN burned the Victim with cigarettes, beat him with a handgun, and threatened the Victim’s life.  ARIAS VILLAR pointed the handgun at the Victim repeatedly, threatened the Victim’s life, and demanded that the Victim pay them.  ARIAS VILLAR broke the Victim’s nose when he threw a laptop computer at his face.  HERNANDEZ, ARIAS VILLAR, and MARTINEZ GUZMAN apparently did not know that the Victim was a Government informant, but sought repayment for narcotics proceeds lost to law enforcement seizures.  The Victim, fearing for his life, transferred approximately $16,000 of his own money to accounts his abductors supplied. 

Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) agents located the car in Fairfield, Connecticut, approximately three hours after the Victim was abducted.  MARTINEZ GUZMAN, ARIAS VILLAR, and HERNANDEZ were arrested and the Victim was brought to a hospital for treatment.

HERNANDEZ, 42, ARIAS VILLAR, 31, and MARTINEZ GUZMAN, 29, were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit extortion.  In addition to their prison terms, HERNANDEZ, ARIAS VILLAR, and MARTINZ GUZMAN were each sentenced to three years of supervised release.  Charges remain pending against Dacheng Zhen.

Mr. Williams praised and thanked the DEA for its outstanding work locating and safely recovering the Victim.

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