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El Paso man pleads guilty to holding two hostage

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Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 17:59:49-04

A 35-year-old West Texas man has pleaded guilty to taking two people hostage as they entered the United States.

According to a release, Jonathan Gonzalez pleaded guilty to an indictment that charged him with conspiracy to take a hostage and two counts of hostage-taking.

"According to the plea agreement and other court records, from April 1, 2021, to April 27, 2021, Gonzalez and his accomplices, Ricardo Arce, 41, of Chaparral, New Mexico, and Vicki Sowell, 36, of El Paso, took two victims hostage in Chaparral," said the release from a U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The first victim, a citizen and national of Georgia, entered the U.S. from Juarez and met with people "who were part of an alien smuggling organization and paid them to transport him to New York where his family lives," said the U.S. Attorney’s Office release.

The victim was taken to a home on April 4, 2021, where Gonzelez held him hostage and threatened to injure or kill him if no money was received for his release. On April 13, the second victim was also taken and held hostage in the same residence by Gonzalez.

The first victim's family in Georgia contacted law enforcement, who contacted the FBI and were able to recover the victim at a barbershop in the El Paso area. The second was secured at a pizza restaurant in El Paso.

"Gonzalez faces up to 15 years in prison," said the press release.