SAN DIEGO – Three defendants have been sentenced for their roles in an alien harboring and hostage taking conspiracy involving two Mexican nationals, one of whom was severely beaten when the conspirators’ ransom demands were not met.
In late July 2015, the two victims were smuggled into the United States from Mexico and stashed at a hotel in El Centro, presumably to await further transportation to their ultimate destination within the United States.
While waiting at the hotel, the victims were discovered by defendant Robert Covarrubias, who transported them by foot to the home of co-defendant Xochitil Victoria Otero, where they were initially locked in a shed before being taken into the house. Once inside Otero’s residence, Covarrubias was joined by co-defendant David “Smokz” Chavez, and the two of them contacted the victims’ family and demanded money for their release.
At one point, Chavez and Covarrubias threatened the male victim with a firearm, forcing him to beg his mother to send money to the defendants for fear of being killed. When it became apparent that their plan was destined to fail, Otero drove Chavez, Covarrubias and the two victims to a remote location in Imperial Valley where Chavez and Covarrubias severely beat the male victim with a crowbar before releasing them. The male victim sustained serious injuries to his head, face and hands as a result of the beating. Fortunately, the victims were able to make contact with a farmworker in an adjacent field, who helped them contact law enforcement.
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