A 63-year-old Chula Vista woman and three others pleaded guilty July 1 to charges involving a bogus kidnap ring in which people were called and falsely told a relative has been kidnapped and they needed to pay a ransom.
Ruth Graciela Raygoza pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. She and three others will be sentenced Oct. 3 in U.S. District Court in San Diego.
Court documents say most of the victims were Latino and many could not speak English. The victims would wire or deliver the money in San Diego and Los Angeles. There were 128 Latino families contacted across the U.S. and the estimated loss is $200,000, according to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy’s press release.
“The defendants showed no compassion for the emotional agony of victims who believed their loved ones were being held captive and might never return.” said Duffy.
“These guilty pleas hold the defendants accountable for allowing greed to trump humanity,” said Duffy. “This investigation demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. Department of Justice to dismantle a ring that targeted immigrant communities throughout the U.S.”
“This is an important investigation because the ring preyed on the vulnerabilities of the victims and capitalized handsomely from their ill-gotten gains,” said Duffy.
Also pleading guilty to the same charges were Maria Del Carmen Pulido Contreras, 42, of Los Angeles; Adrian Jovan Roach, 26, and Jonathan Rocha, 24, both of Tijuana.
All four remain in the Metropolitan Correctional Center without bail as a judge ordered them detained when they were all indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2013.