Two men and a 17 year-old who allegedly smuggled illegal aliens into the country are to be deported along with two Salvadoran males that the trio is suspected of holding for ransom for three days, a government official said Wednesday.
The suspects, Luis Ramirez and Gaspar Ruiz, both 20, and the teen-ager, all of Mexico, are being held by the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, according to John Brechtel, an INS agent.
Brechtel called Ramirez a professional smuggler who routinely traveled to Juarez, Mexico, where he picked up people and brought them into Los Angeles for a fee.
'Along for the Ride'
Brechtel said the other two were "along for the ride" when police arrested the three in North Hollywood on Tuesday night. Officers listened as the three sought to collect a $1,000 fee from the Salvadorans' aunt, he said.
The aunt, Marta Barraza, 42, of North Hollywood had called the police earlier in the day, saying that Ramirez had threatened to harm her nephew, Jose Palacio, 25, and his 15 year-old cousin if she didn't pay, Detective Garry Sampson said. Ramirez had threatened to raise the price by $100 a day, the detective said.
Palacio and his cousin had been held captive since Saturday after arriving from Juarez with Ramirez, Brechtel said.
Police had Barraza contact Ramirez and direct him to a parking lot near the United Artists theater at Bellingham Avenue and Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood, Sgt. Paul Mattson said. At 7:15 p.m. the three arrived with their prisoners and, after a brief struggle, the smuggling suspects were arrested on suspicion of extortion, Mattson said.
The 15-year-old Salvadoran suffered a cut over one eye in the struggle, Mattson said. Both Salvadorans appeared to be in good condition, although they had not eaten since Saturday, Mattson said.
Brechtel said no charges would be filed against the three. They are scheduled to be deported within a few days, along with Palacio and his cousin.